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\\ hy and How 

lhcodore John Kaczvnski 






Copyright © 2015 by Theodore John Kaczynski 
All rights reserved. 

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in 
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, 
or otherwise without the express written consent of the publisher. 

First edition, 2016. 

Published by Fitch & Madison Publishers. 

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Fitch Sc Madison Publishers, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company. 

Theodore John Kaczynski does not receive any remuneration for this book. 
Printed in the United States of America 

© This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper). 

10 987654321 

Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Kaczynski, Theodore John, 1942- author. 

Anti-tech revolution : why and how / Theodore John 
Kaczynski. — First edition, 
pages cm 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

LCCN 2016937645 
ISBN 978-1-944228-00-2 

1. Technology—Social aspects. 2. Technology and 
civilization. 3. Revolutions—History. 

4. Environmental degradation. 5. Nature—Effect of human 
beings on. 6. Social action. I. Title. 

T14.5.K324 2016 


Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every continent, 
and left free, it would be better than it now is. 

—Thomas Jefferson 



The epigraph is from Jefferson’s letter to William Short, January 1793, 
quoted by David N[cC\A\ou$\, John Adams, Simon 8c Schuster, New York, 
2002, p. 438. 

Preface. 1 

Chapter One. The Development of a Society Can Never Be Subject to 
Rational Human Control 

Part I. 7 

Part II . 13 

PartHI. 17 

PartIV. 28 

Part V. 29 

Part VI. 31 

Notes. 34 

Chapter Two. Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself 

Parti. 41 

Part II . 42 

PartHI. 56 

PartIV. 58 

Part V. 68 

Notes. 75 

Chapter Three. How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid 

Parti. 89 

Part II . 92 

PartHI. 100 

PartIV. 119 

Notes. 125 

Chapter Four. Strategic Guidelines for an Anti-Tech Movement 

Section 1. 135 

Section 2. 136 

Section 3. 136 




Section 4. 137 

Section 5. 138 

Section 6. 138 

Section 7. 139 

Section 8. 142 

Section 9. 143 

Section 10. 145 

Section 11. 148 

Section 12. 149 

Section 13. 153 

Section 14. 154 

Section 15. 154 

Section 16. 155 

Section 17. 155 

Section 18. 156 

Section 19. 158 

Section 20. 159 

Section 21. 161 

Section 22. 162 

Section 23. 166 

Section 24. 166 

Section 25. 167 

Section 26. 168 

Section 27. 169 

Section 28. 170 

Section 29. 171 

Section 30. 174 

Notes. 176 

Appendix One. In Support of Chapter One 

Part A. 187 

Part B. 187 

Part C. 189 

Part D. 191 

Notes. 192 

Appendix Two. In Support of Chapter Two 

Part A. 193 

Part B. 195 

Part C. 196 



Part D. 197 

PartE. 199 

Part F.200 

Part G.203 


Appendix Three. Stay on Target.209 

Appendix Four. The Long-Term Outcome of Geo-Engineering. 215 

List of Works Cited. 219 

Index. 231 


I. There are many people today who see that modern society is head¬ 
ing toward disaster in one form or another, and who moreover recognize 
technology as the common thread linking the principal dangers that hang 
over us. 1 Nearly all such people fall into one of two categories: 

First, there are those who are appalled at what technology is doing 
to our society and our planet, but are not motivated to take any action 
against the technological system because they feel helpless to accomplish 
anything in that direction. They read an anti-tech book—say, for example, 
Jacques Ellul’s Technological Society —and it makes them feel better because 
they’ve found someone who has eloquently articulated their own anxieties 
about technology. But the effect soon wears off and their discomfort with 
the technological world begins to nag them again, so they turn for relief 
to another anti-tech book—Ivan Illich, Kirkpatrick Sale, Daniel Quinn, 
my own Industrial Society and Its Future, or something else—and the cycle 
repeats itself. In other words, for these people anti-tech literature is merely 
a kind of therapy: It alleviates their discomfort with technology, but it does 
not serve them as a call to action. 

In the second category are people who are appalled at modern 
technology and actually aspire to accomplish something against the tech¬ 
nological system, but have no practical sense of how to go about it. At a 
purely tactical\zve\ some of these people may have excellent practical sense; 
they may know very well, for example, how to organize a demonstration 
against some particular atrocity that is being committed against our envi¬ 
ronment. But when it comes to grand strategy 2 they are at a loss. Most 
perhaps recognize that any victory against an environmental atrocity or 
other technology-related evil can only be temporary, at best, as long as the 
technological system remains in existence. But they can think of noth¬ 
ing better to do than to continue attacking particular evils while vaguely 
hoping that their work will somehow help to solve the overall problem of 
technology. In reality their work is counterproductive, because it distracts 
attention from the technological system itself as the underlying source of 
the evils and leads people to focus instead on problems of limited signifi¬ 
cance that moreover cannot be permanently solved while the technological 
system continues to exist. 




The purpose of this book is to show people how to begin thinking 
in practical, grand-strategic terms aboutwhat must be done in order to get 
our society off the road to destruction that it is now on. 

On the basis of past experience I feel safe in saying that virtually all 
people—even people of exceptional intelligence—who merely read this 
book once or twice at an ordinary pace will miss many of its most import¬ 
ant points. This book, therefore, is not a book to be read\ it is a book to be 
studied with the same care that one would use in studying, for example, a 
textbook of engineering. There is of course a difference between this book 
and a textbook of engineering. An engineering textbook provides precise 
rules which, if followed mechanically, will consistently give the expected 
results. But no such precise and reliable rules are possible in the social 
sciences. The ideas in this book therefore need to be applied thoughtfully 
and creatively, not mechanically or rigidly. Intelligent application of the 
ideas will be greatly facilitated by a broad knowledge of history and some 
understanding of how societies develop and change. 

II. This book represents only a part, though the most important 
part, of a longer work that I hope to publish later. I’ve been anxious to get 
the most important part of the work into print as soon as possible, because 
the growth of technology and the destruction of our environment move 
at an ever-accelerating rate, and the time to begin organizing for action 
is—as soon as possible. Moreover, I’m 72 years old, and I could be put out 
of action at any time by some medical misfortune, so I want to get the most 
important material into print while I can. 

The entire work—the part published here together with the parts 
that at present exist only in the form of imperfect drafts—goes far beyond 
my earlier works, Industrial Society and Its Future and Technological Slavery , 
and it represents the more-or-less final result of a lifetime of thought and 
reading—during the last thirty-five years, intensive thought and specifically 
purposeful reading. The factual basis of the work is drawn primarily from 
my reading over all those years, and especially from the reading I’ve done 
since 1998 while confined in a federal prison. As of 2011, however, there 
remained important loose ends that needed to be tied up, gaps that needed 
to be filled in, and I’ve been able to tie up those loose ends and fill in those 
gaps only with the generous help of several people outside the prison who 
have delved for the information I’ve requested and have answered almost all 
of the questions—sometimes very difficult questions—that I’ve asked them. 



My thanks are owing above all to Susan Gale. Susan has played the 
key role in this project and has been indispensable. She has been my star 
researcher, producing more results and solving more problems, by far, than 
anyone else; she has ably coordinated the work of other researchers and has 
done most of the typing. 

After Susan, the most important person in this project has been Dr. 
Julie Ault. Julie has read drafts of the various chapters and has called my 
attention to many weak points in the exposition. I’ve tried to correct these, 
though I haven’t been able to correct all of them to my (or, I assume, her) 
satisfaction. In addition, Julie has provided valuable advice on manuscript 
preparation . 3 But most important of all has been the encouragement I’ve 
taken from the fact of having an intellectual heavyweight like Julie Ault 
on my side. 

Several people other than Susan have made important research con¬ 
tributions through steady work over a period of time: Brandon Manwell, 

Deborah_, G. G. Gomez, Valerie vE_, and one other person whose 

name will not be mentioned here. Patrick S_and another person, who 

prefers not to be named, have provided critically important financial support 
and have been helpful in other ways as well. 

The foregoing are the people who have made major contributions to 
the project, but I owe thanks also to nine other people whose contributions 

have been of lesser magnitude: Blake Janssen, Jon H_, and Philip R_ 

each dug up several pieces of information for me; Lydia Eccles, Dr. David 
Skrbina, Isumatag (pseudonym), and Ultimo Reducto (pseudonym) have 
called my attention to information or sent me copies of articles that I’ve 
found useful; Lydia has also performed other services, and an assistant of 
Dr. Skrbina’s typed early drafts of Chapter Three and Appendix Three. On 
the legal front, I owe thanks to two attorneys for their pro-bono assistance: 
Nancy J. Flint, who took care of copyright registration, and Edward T. 
Ramey, whose intervention removed a bureaucratic obstacle to the prepa¬ 
ration of this book. 

My thanks to all! 

III. Despite the generous help I’ve received, I’ve had to make use 
at many points of sources of information that are of doubtful reliability; 
for example, media reports (all too often irresponsible!) or encyclopedia 
articles, which, because of their necessary brevity, commonly give only 
sketchy accounts of the subjects they cover. None of the individuals named 



above are in any way responsible for the resulting defects of this book. It 
is only since 2011 that I’ve had people who have been willing and able to 
spend substantial amounts of time and effort in doing research for me, 
and all of them have had to carry on simultaneously with other necessary 
aspects of their lives, such as earning a living. If I had asked them to find 
solid authority for every piece of information for which I’ve relied on a 
questionable source, the completion of this book would have been delayed 
for a matter of years. I do not believe that my use of questionable sources 
of information will be found to weaken significantly the arguments or the 
conclusions that I offer in this book. Even if some of the bits of information 
I’ve cited turn out to be false, inaccurate, or misleading, the basic structure 
of the book will remain sound. 

IV. Note on referencing. In the notes that followeach chapter or appen¬ 
dix, I generally cite sources of information by giving the author’s last name 
and a page number. The reader can find the author’s full name, the title 
of the book or article cited, the date of publication, and other necessary 
information by looking up the author’s name in the List of Works Cited 
that appears at the end of the book. When a source without named author 
is cited, the reader will in some cases be able to find additional information 
about the source by consulting the list of works without named author that 
concludes the List of Works Cited. 

Two abbreviations are used repeatedly in the notes: 

“ISAIF” refers to my Industrial Society and Its Future , of which only 
one correct version has been published in English; it appears on pages 
36-120 of my book Technological Slavery (Feral House, 2010). 

“NEB” means The New Encyclopaedia Britannic a, Fifteenth Edition. 
The Fifteenth Edition has been modified repeatedly, so “NEB” is always 
followed by a date in parentheses that indicates the particular version of 
NEB that is cited. For example, “NEB (2003)” means the version of The 
New Encyclopaedia Britannica that bears the copyright date 2003. 

Ted Kaczynski 
May 2014 




1. I’ve received many letters from such people, not only from within the 
United States but from a score of countries around the world. 

2. “Tactics,” “strategy,” and “grand strategy” are, in origin at least, military 
terms. Tactics are techniques used for the immediate purpose of winning a par¬ 
ticular battle; strategy deals with broader issues and longer intervals of time, and 
includes advance preparations for winning a battle or a series of battles; grand 
strategy addresses the entire process of achieving a nation’s objectives through 
warfare, and takes into account not only the strictly military aspect of the process 
but also the political, psychological, economic, etc. factors involved. See, e.g., 
NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “War, Theory and Conduct of,” p. 647. The terms “tactics,” 
“strategy,” and “grand strategy” are used by analogy in contexts that have nothing 
to do with warfare or the military. 

3. For reasons connected with the need to get the manuscript for the present 
work prepared quickly, I’ve disregarded some of Julie Ault’s recommendations 
concerning manuscript preparation. Needless to say, Julie is in no way responsible 
for any resulting defects that may be found in this book. 


The Development of a Society 
Can Never Be Subject to Rational 
Human Control 

Adonde un bien se concierta 
hay un mal que lo desvia; 
mas el bien viene y no acierta, 
y el mal acierta y porfia. 

—Diego Hurtado de Mendoza 
(1503-1575) 1 

The wider the scope of my reflection on the present and the 
past, the more am I impressed by their mockery of human 
plans in every transaction. 

—Tacitus 2 

I. In specific contexts in which abundant empirical evidence is 
available, fairly reliable short-term prediction and control of a society’s 
behavior may be possible. For example, economists can predict some of the 
immediate consequences for a modern industrial society of a rise or a fall 
in the interest rates. Hence, by raising or lowering interest rates they can 
manipulate such variables as the levels of inflation and of unemployment. 3 
Indirect consequences are harder to predict, and prediction of the conse¬ 
quences of more elaborate financial manipulations is largely guesswork. 
That’s why the economic policies of the U.S. government are subject to 
so much controversy: No one knows for certain what the consequences of 
those policies really are. 

Outside of contexts in which abundant empirical evidence is avail¬ 
able, or when longer-term effects are at issue, successful prediction—and 
therefore successful management of a society’s development—is far more 
difficult. In fact, failure is the norm. 



Anti-Tech Revolution 

• During the first half of the second century BC, sumptuary laws 
(laws intended to limit conspicuous consumption) were enacted in an effort 
to forestall the incipient decadence of Roman society. As is usual with sump¬ 
tuary laws, these failed to have the desired effect, and the decay of Roman 
mores continued unchecked. 4 By the early first century BC, Rome had 
become politically unstable. With the help of soldiers under his command, 
Lucius Cornelius Sulla seized control of the city, physically exterminated 
the opposition, and carried out a comprehensive program of reform that 
was intended to restore stable government. But Sulla’s intervention only 
made the situation worse, because he had killed off the “defenders oflawful 
government” and had filled the Senate with unscrupulous men “whose tra¬ 
dition was the opposite of that sense of mission and public service that had 
animated the best of the aristocracy.” 5 Consequently the Roman political 
system continued to unravel, and by the middle of the first century BC 
Rome’s traditional republican government was essentially defunct. 

• In Italy during the 9th century AD certain kings promulgated 
laws intended to limit the oppression and exploitation of peasants by the 
aristocracy. “The laws proved futile, however, and aristocratic landowning 
and political dominance continued to grow.” 6 

• Simon Bolivar was the principal leader of the revolutions through 
which Spain’s American colonies achieved their independence. He had 
hoped and expected to establish stable and “enlightened” government 
throughout Spanish America, but he made so little progress toward that 
objective that he wrote in bitterness shortly before his death in 1830: “He 
who serves a revolution plows the sea.” Bolivar went on to predict that 
Spanish America would “infallibly fall into the hands of the unrestrained 
multitude to pass afterward to those of... petty tyrants of all races and 
colors... [We will be] devoured by all crimes and extinguished by ferocity 
[so that] the Europeans will not deign to conquer us... .” 7 Allowing for a 
good deal of exaggeration attributable to the emotion under which Bolivar 
wrote, this prediction held (roughly) true for a century and a half after his 
death. But notice that Bolivar did not arrive at this prediction until too 
late; and that it was a very general prediction that asserted nothing specific. 

• In the United States during the late 19th century there were 

worker-housing projects sponsored by a number of individual philan¬ 
thropists and housing reformers. Their objective was to show that 

Chapter One: Part I 


efforts to improve the living conditions of workers could be combined 
with... profits of 5 percent annually. ... 

Reformers believed that the model dwellings would set a stan¬ 
dard that other landlords would be forced to meet... mostly because 
of the workings of competition. Unfortunately, this solution to the 
housing problem did not take hold... . The great mass of urban work¬ 
ers. .. were crowded into... tenements that operated solely for profit. 8 

It is not apparent that there has been any progress over the centuries 
in the capacity of humans to guide the development of their societies. 
Relatively recent (post-1950) efforts in this direction may seem superficially 
to be more sophisticated than those of earlier times, but they do not appear 
to be more successful. 

• The social reform programs of the mid-1960s in the United States, 
spearheaded by President Lyndon Johnson, revealed that beliefs about the 
causes and cures of such social problems as crime, drug abuse, poverty, 
and slums had little validity. For example, according to one disappointed 

Once upon a time we thought that if we could only get our problem 
families out of those dreadful slums, then papa would stop taking 
dope, mama would stop chasing around, and junior would stop car¬ 
rying a knife. Well, we’ve got them in a nice new apartment with 
modern kitchens and a recreation center. And they’re the same bunch 
of bastards they always were. 9 

This doesn’t mean that all of the reform programs were total fail¬ 
ures, but the general level of success was so low as to indicate that the 
reformers did not understand the workings of society well enough to know 
what should be done to solve the social problems that they addressed. 
Where they achieved some modest level of success they probably did so 
mainly through luck. 10 

One could go on and on citing examples like the foregoing ones. 
One could also cite many examples of efforts to control the development 
of societies in which the immediate goals of the efforts have been achieved. 
But in such cases the longer-term consequences for society as a whole have 
not been what the reformers or revolutionaries have expected or desired. 11 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

• The legislation of the Athenian statesman Solon (6th century 
BC) was intended to abolish hektemorage (roughly equivalent to serfdom) 
in Attica while allowing the aristocracy to retain most of its wealth and 
privilege. In this respect the legislation was successful. But it also had 
unexpected consequences that Solon surely would not have approved. The 
liberation of the “serfs” resulted in a labor shortage thatled the Athenians to 
purchase or capture numerous slaves from outside Attica, so that Athens was 
transformed into a slave society. Another indirect consequence of Solon’s 
legislation was the Peisistratid “tyranny” (populist dictatorship) that ruled 
Athens during a substantial part of the 6th century BC. 12 

• Otto von Bismarck, one of the most brilliant statesmen in 
European history, had an impressive list of successes to his credit. Among 
other things: 

—He achieved the unification of Germany in 1867-1871. 

—He engineered the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, but his suc¬ 
cessful efforts for peace thereafter earned him the respect of European 

—He successfully promoted the industrialization of Germany. 

—By such means he won for the monarchy the support of the middle 


—Thus Bismarck achieved his most important objective: He pre¬ 
vented (temporarily) the democratization of Germany. 

—Though Bismarck was forced to resign in 1890, the political struc¬ 
ture he had established for Germany lasted until 1918, when it was brought 
down by the German defeat in World War I. 13 

Notwithstanding his remarkable successes Bismarck felt that he had 
failed, and in 1898 he died an embittered old man. 14 Clearly, Germany 
was not going the way he had intended. Probably it was the resumption of 
Germany’s slow drift toward democratization that angered him most. But 
his bitterness would have been deeper if he had foreseen the future. One 
can only speculate as to what the history of Germany might have been after 
1890 if Bismarck hadn’t led the country up to that date, but it is certain 
that he did not succeed in putting Germany on a course leading to results 
of which he would have approved; for Bismarck would have been horrified 
by the disastrous war of 1914-18, by Germany’s defeat in it, and above all 
by the subsequent rise of Adolf Hitler. 

• In the United States, reformers’ zeal led to the enactment in 1919 
of “Prohibition” (prohibition of the manufacture, sale, or transportation 

Chapter One: Part I 


of alcoholic beverages) as a constitutional amendment. Prohibition was 
partly successful in achieving its immediate objective, for it did decrease 
the alcohol consumption of the “lower” classes and reduce the incidence of 
alcohol-related diseases and deaths; it moreover “eradicated the saloon.” On 
the other hand, it provided criminal gangs with opportunities to make huge 
profits through the smuggling and/or the illicit manufacture of alcoholic 
drinks; thus Prohibition greatly promoted the growth of organized crime. 
In addition, it tended to corrupt otherwise respectable people who were 
tempted to purchase the illegal beverages. It became clear that Prohibition 
was a serious mistake, and it was repealed through another constitutional 
amendment in 1933. 15 

• The so-called “Green Revolution” of the latter part of the 20th 
century—the introduction of new farming technologies and of recently 
developed, highly productive varieties of grain—was supposed to allevi¬ 
ate hunger in the Third World by providing more abundant harvests. It 
did indeed provide more abundant harvests. But: “[Ajlthough the ‘Green 
Revolution’ seems to have been a success as far as the national total cereal 
production figures are concerned, a look at it from the perspective of 
communities and individual humans indicates that the problems have far 
outweighed the successes... ,” 16 In some parts of the world the conse¬ 
quences of the Green Revolution have been nothing short of catastrophic. 
For example, in the Punjab (a region lying partly in India and partly in 
Pakistan), the Green Revolution has ruined “thousands of hectares of [for¬ 
merly] productive land,” and has led to severe lowering of the water table, 
contamination of the water with pesticides and fertilizers, numerous cases 
of cancer (probably due to the contaminated water), and many suicides. 
‘“The green revolution has brought us only downfall,’ says Jarnail Singh... . 
‘It ruined our soil, our environment, our water table. Used to be we had 
fairs in villages where people would come together and have fun. Now we 
gather in medical centers.’” 17 

From other parts of the world as well come reports of negative con¬ 
sequences, of varying degrees of severity, that have followed the Green 
Revolution. These consequences include economic, behavioral, and medical 
effects in addition to environmental damage (e.g., desertification). 18 

• In 1953, U.S. President Eisenhower announced an “Atoms for 
Peace” program according to which the nations of the world were sup¬ 
posed to pool nuclear information and materials under the auspices of an 
international agency. In 1957 the International Atomic Energy Agency 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

was established to promote the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and in 
1968 the United Nations General Assembly approved a “non-proliferation” 
treaty under which signatories agreed not to develop nuclear weapons and 
in return were given nuclear technology that they were supposed to use 
only for peaceful purposes. 19 The people involved in this effort should have 
known enough history to realize that nations generally abide by treaties 
only as long as they consider it in their own (usually short-term) interest 
to do so, which commonly is not very long. But apparently the assumption 
was that the nations receiving nuclear technology would be so grateful, and 
so happy cooperating in its peaceful application, that they would forever 
put aside the aspirations for power and the bitter rivalries that throughout 
history had led to the development of increasingly destructive weapons. 

This idea seems to have originated with scientists like Robert 
Oppenheimer and Niels Bohr who had helped to create the first atomic 
bomb. 20 That physicists would come up with something so naive was only 
to be expected, since specialists in the physical sciences almost always 
are grossly obtuse about human affairs. It seems surprising, however, that 
experienced politicians would act upon such an idea. But then, politicians 
often do things for propaganda purposes and not because they really believe 
in them. 

The “Atoms for Peace” idea worked fine—for a while. Some 140 
nations signed the non-proliferation treaty in 1968 (others later), 21 and 
nuclear technology was spread around the world. Iran, in the early 1970s, 
was one of the countries that received nuclear technology from the U.S. 22 
And the nations receiving such technology didn’t try to use it to develop 
nuclear weapons. Not immediately , anyway. Of course, we know what has 
happened since then. “[H]ard-nosed politicians and diplomats [e.g., Henry 
Kissinger],. .argue that proliferation of nuclear weapons is fast approaching 
a ‘tipping point’ beyond which it will be impossible to check their spread.” 
These “veterans of America’s cold-war security establishment with impec¬ 
cable credentials as believers in nuclear deterrence” now claim that such 
weapons “ha[ve] become a source of intolerable risk.” 23 And there is the 
inconvenient fact that the problem of safe disposal of radioactive waste from 
th e.peaceful uses of nuclear energy still has not been solved. 24 

The “Atoms for Peace” fiasco suggests that humans’ capacity to con¬ 
trol the development of their societies not only has failed to progress, but 
has actually retrogressed. Neither Solon nor Bismarckwould have supported 
anything as stupid as “Atoms for Peace.” 

Chapter One: Part II 


II. There are good reasons why humans’ capacity to control the 
development of their societies has failed to progress. In order to control 
the development of a society you would have to be able to predict how the 
society would react to any given action you might take, and such predic¬ 
tions have generally proven to be highly unreliable. Human societies are 
complex systems—technologically advanced societies are most decidedly 
complex—and prediction of the behavior of complex systems presents dif¬ 
ficulties that are not contingent on the present state of our knowledge or 
our level of technological development. 

[UJnintended consequences [are] a well-known problem with the 
design and use of technology... . The cause of many [unintended con¬ 
sequences] seems clear: The systems involved are complex, involving 
interaction among and feedback between many parts. Any changes 
to such a system will cascade in ways that are difficult to predict; this 
is especially true when human actions are involved. 25 

Problems in economics can give us some idea of how impossibly 
difficult it would be to predict or control the behavior of a system as com¬ 
plex as that of a modern human society. It is convincingly argued that a 
modern economy can never be rationally planned to maximize efficiency, 
because the task of carrying out such planning would be too overwhelmingly 
complex. 26 Calculation of a rational system of prices for the U.S. economy 
alone would require manipulation of a conservatively estimated 6xl0 13 
(sixty trillion!) simultaneous equations. 27 That takes into account only the 
economic factors involved in establishing prices and leaves out the innu¬ 
merable psychological, sociological, political, etc., factors that continuously 
interact with the economy. 

Even if we make the wildly improbable assumption that the behav¬ 
ior of our society could be predicted through the manipulation of, say, 
a million trillion simultaneous equations and that sufficient computing 
power to conduct such manipulation were available, collection of the data 
necessary for insertion of the appropriate numbers into the equations would 
be impracticable, 28 especially since the data would have to meet impossibly 
high standards of precision if the predictions were expected to remain 
valid over any considerable interval of time. Edward Lorenz, a meteo¬ 
rologist, was the first to call widespread attention to the fact that even 
the most minute inaccuracy in the data provided can totally invalidate a 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

prediction about the behavior of a complex system. This fact came to be 
called the “butterfly effect” because in 1972, at a meeting of the American 
Association for the Advancement of Science, Lorenz gave a talk that he 
titled “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off 
a Tornado in Texas?” 29 Lorenz’s work is said to have been the inspiration 
for the development of what is called “chaos theory” 30 —the butterfly effect 
being an example of “chaotic” behavior. 

Chaotic behavior is not limited to complex systems; in fact, some 
surprisingly simple systems can behave chaotically. 31 The Encyclopaedia 
Britannica illustrates this with a purely mathematical example. Let A and 
x 0 be any two given numbers with 0<A<4 and 0<x 0 <l, and let a sequence of 
numbers be generated according to the formula x n+1 =Ax n (l -xj. For certain 
values of A, e.g., A=3.7, the sequence behaves chaotically: In order to bring 
about a linear increase in the number of terms of the sequence that one can 
predict to a reasonable approximation, one needs to achieve an exponential 
improvement in the accuracy of one’s estimate of x<). In other words, in order 
to predict the nth term of the sequence, one needs to know the value of x 0 
with an error not exceeding 10 kn , k a constant. 32 This is characteristic of 
chaotic systems generally: Any small extension of the range of prediction 
requires an exponential improvement in the accuracy of the data. 

[A] 11 chaotic systems share the property that every extra place of 
decimals in one’s knowledge of the starting point only pushes the 
horizon [of predictability] a small distance away. In practical terms, 
the horizon of predictability is an impassable barrier. ... [OJnce it 
becomes clear how many systems are sufficiently nonlinear to be 
considered for chaos, it has to be recognized that prediction may be 
limited to short stretches set by the horizon of predictability. Full 
comprehension... must frequently remain a tentative process... with 
frequent recourse to observation and experiment in the event that 
prediction and reality have diverged too far. 33 

It should be noted that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle sets an 
absolute limit to the precision of data used for the prediction of physical 
phenomena. This principle, which implies that certain events involving 
subatomic particles are unpredictable, is inferred mathematically from other 
known laws of physics; hence, successful prediction at the subatomic level 
would entail violations of the laws of physics. If a prediction about the 

Chapter One: Part II 


behavior of a macroscopic system requires data so precise that their accuracy 
can be disturbed by events at the subatomic level, then no reliable prediction 
is possible. Hence, for a chaotic physical system, there is a point beyond 
which the horizon of predictability can never be extended. 

Of course, the behavior of a human society is not in every respect 
chaotic; there are empirically observable historical trends that can last for 
centuries or millennia. But it is wildly improbable that a modern techno¬ 
logical society could be free of all chaotic subsystems whose behavior is 
capable of affecting the society as a whole, so it is safe to assume that the 
development of a modern society is necessarily chaotic in at least some 
respects and therefore unpredictable. 

This doesn’t mean that no predictions at all are possible. In reference 
to weather forecasting the Britannica writes: 

It is highly probable that atmospheric movements... are in a state 
of chaos. If so, there can be little hope of extending indefinitely the 
range of weather forecasting except in the most general terms. There 
are clearly certain features of climate, such as annual cycles of tem¬ 
perature and rainfall, which are exempt from the ravages of chaos. 
Other large-scale processes may still allow long-range prediction, 
but the more detail one asks for in a forecast, the sooner it will lose 
its validity. 34 

Much the same can be said of the behavior of human society (though 
human society is far more complex even than the weather). In some con¬ 
texts, reasonably reliable and specific short-term predictions can be made, 
as we noted above in reference to the relationship between interest rates, 
inflation, and unemployment. Long-term predictions of an imprecise and 
nonspecific character are often possible; we’ve already mentioned Bolivar’s 
correct prediction of the failure of stable and “enlightened” government in 
Spanish America. (Here it is well to note that predictions that something 
will not work can generally be made with greater confidence than predic¬ 
tions that something will work. 35 ) But reliable long-term predictions that 
are at all specific can seldom be made. 

There are exceptions. Moore’s Law makes a specific prediction about 
the rate of growth of computing power, and as of 2012 the law has held 
true for some fifty years. 36 But Moore’s Law is not an inference derived 
from an understanding of society, it is simply a description of an empirically 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

observed trend, and no one knows how long the trend will continue. The 
law may have predictable consequences for many areas of technology, but 
no one knows in any specific way how all this technology will interact with 
society as a whole. Though Moore’s Law and other empirically observed 
trends may play a useful role in attempts to foresee the future, it remains 
true that any effort to understand the development of our society must (to 
borrow the Britannicas phrases) “remain a tentative process... with frequent 
recourse to observation and experiment... .” 

But just in case someone declines to assume that our society includes 
any important chaotic components, let’s suppose for the sake of argument 
that the development of society could in principle be predicted through 
the solution of some stupendous system of simultaneous equations and 
that the necessary numerical data at the required level of precision could 
actually be collected. No one will claim that the computing power required 
to solve such a system of equations is currently available. But let’s assume 
that the unimaginably vast computing power predicted by Ray Kurzweil 37 
will become a reality for some future society, and let’s suppose that such a 
quantity of computing power would be capable of handling the enormous 
complexity of th t present society and predicting its development over some 
substantial interval of time. It does not follow that a future society of that 
kind would have sufficient computing power to predict its own develop¬ 
ment, for such a society necessarily would be incomparably more complex 
than the present one: The complexity of a society will grow right along 
with its computing power, because the society’s computational devices are 
part of the society. 

There are in fact certain paradoxes involved in the notion of a system 
that predicts its own behavior. These are reminiscent of Russell’s Paradox 
in set theory 38 and of the paradoxes that arise when one allows a statement 
to talk about itself (e.g., consider the statement, “This statement is false”). 
When a system makes a prediction about its own behavior, that predic¬ 
tion may itself change the behavior of the system, and the change in the 
behavior of the system may invalidate the prediction. Of course, not every 
statement that talks about itself is paradoxical. For example, the statement, 
“This statement is in the English language” makes perfectly good sense. 
Similarly, many predictions that a system may make about itself will not be 
self-invalidating; they may even cause the system to behave in such away 
as to fulfill the prediction. 39 But it is too much to hope for that a society’s 
predictions about itself will never be (unexpectedly) self-invalidating. 

Chapter One: Part III 


A society’s ability to predict its own behavior moreover would seem to 
require something like complete self-knowledge, and here too one runs into 
paradoxes. We need not discuss these here; some thought should suffice to 
convince the reader that any attempt to envision a system having complete 
self-knowledge will encounter difficulties. 

Thus, from several points ofview—past and present experience, com¬ 
plexity, chaos theory, and logical difficulties (paradoxes)—it is clear that 
no society can accurately predict its own behavior over any considerable 
span of time. Consequently, no society can be consistently successful in 
planning its own future in the long term. 

This conclusion is in no way unusual, surprising, or original. Astute 
observers of history have known for a long time that a society can’t plan its 
own future. Thus Thurston writes: “[N]o government has ever been able 
physically to manage the total existence of a country, ... or to foresee all 
the complications that would ensue from a decision made at the center.” 40 

Heilbroner and Singer write: “Technology made America a ‘middle- 
class’ nation. This process was not, of course, the outcome of anyone’s 
decision. Like much of the economic history we have traced, it followed 
from the blind workings of the market mechanism.” 41 

Norbert Elias wrote: “[T]he actual course of... historical change as 
a whole is intended and planned by no-one.” 42 And: “Civilization... is set 
in motion blindly, and kept in motion by the autonomous dynamics of a 
web of relationships... ,” 43 

III. The expected answer to the foregoing will be: Even granting 
that the behavior of a society is unpredictable in the long term, it may 
nevertheless be possible to steer a society rationally by means of continual 
short-term interventions. To take an analogy, if we let a car without a driver 
roll down a rugged, irregular hillside, the only prediction we can make 
is that the car will not follow any predetermined course but will bounce 
around erratically. However, if the car has a driver, he may be able to steer 
it so as to avoid the worst bumps and make it roll instead through relatively 
smooth places. With a good deal of luck he may even be able to make the 
car arrive approximately at a preselected point at the foot of the hill. For 
these purposes the driver only needs to be able to predict very roughly how 
far the car will veer to the right or to the left when he turns the steering 
wheel. If the car veers too far or not far enough, he can correct with another 
turn of the wheel. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Perhaps something similar could be done with an entire society. It 
is conceivable that a combination of empirical studies with increasingly 
sophisticated theory may eventually make possible fairly reliable short-term 
predictions of the way a society will react to any given change—just as 
fairly reliable short-term weather forecasting has become possible. Perhaps, 
then, a society might be successfully steered by means of frequent, intelli¬ 
gent interventions in such a way that undesirable outcomes could usually 
be avoided and some desirable outcomes achieved. The steering process 
would not have to be infallible; errors could be corrected through further 
interventions. Just possibly, one might even hope to succeed in steering a 
society so that it would arrive in the long run at something approximating 
one’s conception of a good society. 

But this proposal too runs into difficulties of a fundamental kind. 
The first problem is: Who decides what outcomes are desirable or undesir¬ 
able, or what kind of “good” society should be our long-term goal? There 
is never anything resembling general agreement on the answers to such 
questions. Friedrich Engels wrote in 1890: 

History is made in such a way that the final result always arises from 
the conflicts among many individual wills, each of which is made 
into what it is by a multitude of special conditions of life; thus there 
are innumerable intersecting forces, an infinite collection of parallel¬ 
ograms of forces, and from them emerges a resultant—the historical 
event—which from another point of view can be regarded as the 
product of one power that, as a whole, operates unconsciously and 
without volition. For what each individual wants runs up against the 
opposition of every other, and what comes out of it all is something 
that no one wanted. 44 

Norbert Elias, who was not a Marxist, made a very similar remark: 

[FJrom the interweaving of countless individual interests and inten¬ 
tions—whether tending in the same direction or in divergent and 
hostile directions—something comes intobeingthatwas planned and 
intended by none of these individuals, yet has emerged nevertheless 
from their intentions and actions. 45 

Chapter One: Part III 


Even in those rare cases in which almost everyone agrees on a policy, 
effective implementation of the policy may be prevented by what is called 
the “problem of the commons.” The problem of the commons consists in 
the fact that it may be to everyone’s advantage that everyone should act in 
a certain way, yet it may be to the advantage of each individual to act in a 
contrary way. 46 For example, in modern society it is to everyone’s advantage 
that everyone should pay a portion of his income to support the functions 
of government. Yet it is to the advantage of each individual to keep all his 
income for himself, and that’s why hardly anyone pays taxes voluntarily, 
or pays more than he has to. 

The answer to the foregoing arguments will be that political institu¬ 
tions exist precisely in order to resolve such problems: The concrete decisions 
made in the process of governing a society are not the resultant of conflicts 
among the innumerable individual wills of the population at large; instead, 
a small number of political leaders are formally empowered (through elec¬ 
tions or otherwise) to make necessary decisions for everyone, and to enact 
laws that compensate for the problem of the commons by compelling indi¬ 
viduals to do what is required for the common welfare (for example, laws 
that compel payment of taxes). Since the top political leaders are relatively 
few in number, it is not unreasonable to hope that they can resolve their 
differences well enough to steer the development of a society rationally. 

Actually, experience shows that when the top politicalleaders number 
more than, say, half a dozen or so, it must seriously be doubted whether 
they can ever resolve their differences well enough to be able to govern in 
a consistently rational way. But even where no conflicts exist among the 
top leaders, the real power of such leaders is very much less than the power 
that is formally assigned to them. Consequently, their ability to steer the 
development of their society rationally is extremely limited at best. 

When this writer was in the Sacramento County Main Jail in 
1996-98, he had some interesting conversations with the jail adminis¬ 
trator, Lieutenant Dan Lewis. In the course of one such conversation, on 
December 31,1996, Lewis complained that it was not easy to get some of his 
officers to follow his orders, and he described the problems that a person in 
a position of formal power faces when he tries to exert that power to make 
his organization do what he wants it to do. If the leader takes measures 
that are resented by too many of the people under his command, he will 
meet with so much resistance that his organization will be paralyzed. 47 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

It’s not only jail administrators whose power is far more limited 
than it appears to an outsider. Julius Caesar reportedly said, “The higher 
our station, the less is our freedom of action.” 48 According to an English 
author of the 17th century: “Men in great place (saith one) are thrice ser¬ 
vants; servants of the sovereign, or state; servants of fame; and servants of 
business. So as they have no freedom, neither in their persons, nor in their 
actions, nor in their times.” 49 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln wrote: “I 
claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have 
controlled me.” 50 

While F.W. de Klerk was President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela 
asked him why he did not prevent acts of violence that in some cases were 
being carried out with the collusion of the police. De Klerk replied, “Mr. 
Mandela, when you join me [as a member of the government] you will 
realise I do not have the power which you think I have.” 51 It’s possible that 
de Klerk was pleading powerlessness as an excuse for tolerating violence that 
in reality he might have been able to prevent. Nevertheless, when Mandela 
himself became President, he “quickly realized, as de Klerk had warned 
him, that a President had less power than he appeared to. He could rule 
effectively only through his colleagues and civil servants, who had to be 
patiently persuaded... .” 52 

In line with this, a thorough student of the American presidency, 
Clinton Rossiter, has explained how severely the power of the President of 
the United States is limited, not only by public opinion and by the power 
of Congress, but also by conflicts with members of his own administration 
who, in theory, are totally under his command. 53 Rossiter refers to “the trials 
undergone by [Presidents] Truman and Eisenhower in persuading certain 
chiefs of staff, whose official lives depend entirely on the President’s plea¬ 
sure, to shape their acts and speeches to the policies of the administration.” 54 
One of our most powerful presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, complained: 

The Treasury is so large and far-flung and ingrained in its practices 
that I find it is almost impossible to get the actions and results I 
want... . But the Treasury is not to be compared with the State 
Department. You should go through the experience of trying to get 
any changes in the thinking, policy and action of the career diplomats 
and then you’d know what a real problem was. But the Treasury and 
the State Department put together are nothing compared with the 
Na-a-vy. The admirals are really something to cope with—and I 

Chapter One: Part III 


should know. To change anything in the Na-a-vy is like punching a 
feather bed. You punch it with your right and you punch it with your 
left until you are finally exhausted, and then you find the damn bed 
just as it was before you started punching. 55 

Roosevelt’s capable successor in the presidency, Harry S. Truman, said: 

[Pjeople talk about the powers of a President, all the powers that 
a Chief Executive has, and what he can do. Let me tell you some¬ 
thing—from experience! 

The President may have a great many powers given to him by 
the Constitution and may have certain powers under certain laws 
which are given to him by the Congress of the United States; but the 
principal power that the President has is to bring people in and try 
to persuade them to do what they ought to do without persuasion. 
That’s what I spend most of my time doing. That’s what the powers 
of the President amount to. 56 

Thus, concentration of formal power in the hands of a few top lead¬ 
ers by no means liberates decision-making from Engels’s “conflicts among 
many individual wills.” Some people may be surprised to learn that this 
is true even in a society governed by a single, theoretically absolute ruler. 

• From 200 BC to 1911 AD, all Chinese dynasties were headed by 
an emperor who “was the state’s sole legislator, ultimate executive authority, 
and highest judge. His pronouncements were, quite literally, the law, and 
he alone was not bound by his own laws.” 57 The emperor was supposed 
to be restrained by “Confucian norms and the values perpetuated by the 
scholar-official elite,” 58 but in the absence of an explicit codification or 
any mechanism for enforcement, these restraints were effective against the 
emperor only to the extent that some of his subjects were brave enough to 
challenge him on their own initiative, though the emperor, “if he insisted, 
would prevail.” 59 

More important, therefore, were the practical limitations to which 
the emperor was subject. “As the head of a vast governmental apparatus... 
he was... forced to delegate his powers to others who conducted the routine 
operations of government... . Institutions inherited from previous dynasties 
were the main vehicles through which he delegated political responsibili¬ 
ties,” for “in seeking alternatives to that immediate past, one had no models 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

outside of China to draw upon.” 60 Needless to say, the actual power wielded 
by an emperor depended on the energy and ability of the individual who 
occupied the office at any given time, 61 but it seems clear that that power 
was in every case far less than what might naively be inferred from the fact 
that the emperor’s word was law. 

To illustrate the practical limitations on the emperor’s power with a 
concrete example, in 1069 AD the emperor Shenzong (Shen-tsung), having 
recognized the brilliance of the political thinker Wang Anshi (An-shih), 
appointed him Vice Chief Councillor in charge of administration and gave 
him fullpower to implement his ideas in the emperor’s name. 62 Wang based 
his reforms on thorough study, but both he and the emperor failed to take 
account of the bitter opposition that the new policies would arouse among 
those whose private interests were threatened by them. 63 “Even in the short 
run, the cost of the divisive factionalism that the reforms generated had 
disastrous effects.” 64 Opposition to Wang was so intense that he resigned 
permanently in 1076, and during the eight years following Shenzong’s 
death in 1085 most of the reforms were rescinded or drastically revised. 65 
Under two subsequent emperors, Zhezong (Che-tsung; reigned in effect, 
circa 1093-1100) and Huizong (Hui-tsung; reigned 1100-1126), some of 
the reforms were restored, but “Wang’s own former associates were gone, 
and his policies became nothing more than an instrument in bitter polit¬ 
ical warfare.” 66 “[AJlthough Emperor Huizong’s reign saw some of the 
reform measures reinstated, the atmosphere at his court was not one of 
high-minded commitment,” 67 but was characterized by “debased politi¬ 
cal behavior.” 68 “Leading officials engaged in corrupt practices,” and the 
rapacity of the emperor’s agents “aroused serious revolts of people who in 
desperation took up arms against them.” 69 The fall of the Northern Song 
(Sung) Dynasty in 1126-27 marked the final demise of whatever was left 
of Wang’s reforms. 70 

• Norbert Elias makes clear that the “absolute” monarchs of the 
“Age of Absolutism” in Europe were not so absolute as they seemed. 71 
For example, Louis XIV of France is generally seen as the archetype of 
the “absolute” monarch; he could probably have had any individual’s head 
chopped off at will. But by no means could he use his power freely: 

The vast human network that Louis XIV ruled ha[d] its own momen¬ 
tum and its own centre of gravity which he had to respect. It cost 

Chapter One: Part III 


immense effort and self-control to preserve the balance of people and 

groups and, by playing on the tensions, to steer the whole. 72 

Elias might have added that Louis XIV could “steer” his realm only 
within certain narrow limits. Elias himself refers elsewhere to “the reali¬ 
zation that even the most absolute government is helpless in the face of the 
dynamisms of social development... .” 73 

• The theoretically absolute emperor Joseph II ruled Austria from 
1780 to 1790 and instituted major reforms of a “progressive” (i.e., modern¬ 
izing) character. But: 

“By 1787 resistance to Joseph and his government was intensifying. 
...Resistance simmered in the Austrian Netherlands... . 

“[By 1789]... The war [against the Turks] caused an outpouring of 
popular agitation against his foreign policy, the people of the Austrian 
Netherlands rose in outright revolution, and reports of trouble in Galicia 
increased. ... 

“Faced with these difficulties, Joseph revoked many of the reforms 
that he had enacted earlier. ... 

“.. .[Joseph II] tried to do too much too quickly and so died a deeply 
disappointed man.” 74 

Especially to be noted is the fact that Joseph II failed even though 
most of his reforms were modernizing ones; that is, they merely attempted 
to accelerate Austria’s movement in obedience to a powerful pre-existing 
trend in European history. 

Revolutionary dictators of the 20 th century, such as Hitler and Stalin, 
were probably more powerful than traditional “absolute” monarchs, because 
the revolutionary character of their regimes had done away with many of 
the traditional, formal or informal social structures and customary restraints 
that had curbed the “legitimate” monarchs’ exercise of their power. But even 
the revolutionary dictators’ power was in practice far less than absolute. 

• During the 1930s, when the Hitler regime was rearming Germany 
in preparation for anticipated warfare, resistance by the working class “kept 
the government from curtailing the production of consumers’ goods, 
although civilian output interfered seriously with arms production.” 75 

It is said that, from 1938, resistance to the regime included some ten 
attempts to kill Hitler or otherwise remove him from power. 76 The most 
important of these efforts was initiated in 1943 by a conspiracy of civilian 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

dignitaries and military officers, who on July 20, 1944 tried to blow the 
Fiihrer up with a bomb, after which they planned to seize control of the 
government. The assassination attempt was nearly successful, and it was 
only through luck that Hitler escaped with his life. 77 It appears that many 
of the conspirators were motivated not only by the fact that Hitler had 
gotten them into a losing war, but also by disgust at the atrocities that 
Germans, under Nazi leadership, were committing against Jews, Slavs, 
and other groups. 78 

• In the Soviet Union between 1934 and 1941, the Stalin regime was 
unable to regulate its own labor force, for the “demand for labor created a 
situation that overrode... the efforts of the regime to control labor through 
legislation.” 79 The government naturally wanted a stable work force in which 
workers would remain at their jobs as long as they were needed, but in 
practice they “continued to change jobs at a high rate.” 80 Laws were evaded 
or simply ignored, and “hardly slowed down the movement of workers.” 81 

More significantly, the Terror of the middle to late 1930 s was not a 
calculated and effective measure undertaken by Stalin to crush resistance 
to his rule. Instead, a frightened dictator initiated a process that rapidly 
spiraled out of his control. “Stalin was a man initiating and reacting to 
developments, not the cold mastermind of a plot to subdue the party and the 
nation.” “It now appears that Stalin and his close associates, having helped 
create a tense and ugly atmosphere, nonetheless repeatedly reacted [during 
the Terror] to events they had not planned or foreseen.” “An atmosphere of 
panic had set in reminiscent of the European witch-hunts... .” “Stalin seems 
to have become steadily more worried as the purges uncovered alleged spies 
and Trotskyites. Finally he struck at them, almost incoherently, [f ] During 
1937 and 1938 events spun out of... control.” “[T]he police fabricated cases, 
tortured people not targeted in Stalin’s directives, and became a power unto 
themselves.” “Terror was producing avoidance of responsibility, which was 
dysfunctional. Whatever the goal at the top, events were again out of con¬ 
trol.” “[Stalin] reacted, and over-reacted, to events. ... He was sitting at the 
peak of a pyramid of lies and incomplete information... .” “The evidence 
is now strong that [Stalin] did not plan the Terror.” 82 

Quite apart from any resistance by subordinates or other “conflicts 
among individual wills” within a system, purely technical factors narrowly 
limit the options open even to a leader whose power over his system is 
theoretically absolute. 

Chapter One: Part III 


• In Frank Norris’s immortal novel, The Octopus —about wheat 
farmers whose livelihood is destroyed by railroad rate increases—the pro¬ 
tagonist, Presley, confronts the apparently ruthless businessman Shelgrim, 
President of the railroad. But Shelgrim tells him: 

‘“You are dealing with forces, young man, when you speak of wheat 
and the railroads, not with men. ... Men have only little to do with the 
whole business. ... Blame conditions, not men.’ 

“‘But—but’, faltered Presley, ‘You are the head, you control the road.’ 

“‘...Control the road! ... I can go into bankruptcy if you like. But 
otherwise, if I run my road as a business proposition, I can do nothing. I 
can not control it.’” 83 

The Octopus is a work of fiction, but it does truthfully represent, in 
dramatized form, the economic realities of the era in which Norris wrote 
(about the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century). At 
that time, “railway labor and material costs” had increased, and “many 
American railroads, already struggling to stay alive economically, could 
not afford rate reductions.” State railroad commissions “seeking... ways of 
establishing fair, ‘scientific’ rates” found that “there was no such thing as 
‘scientific’ rate making. They discovered that it was extraordinarily difficult 
to define the ‘public interest’ or to take the rate question ‘out of politics.’ 
Setting rates meant assigning economic priorities, and someone—shipper, 
carrier, consumer—inevitably got hurt.” 84 So it’s likely that a railroad like 
Shelgrim’s would indeed have gone bankrupt if it had tried to set rates in 
such a way as to treat everyone “fairly” and humanely. 

It is probably true in general that the ruthless behavior of business 
enterprises is more often compelled by economic realities than voluntarily 
chosen by a rapacious management. 

• In the 1830s, at an early stage of the U.S. industrial revolution, 
the textile manufacturers of Massachusetts treated their employees benevo¬ 
lently. Nowadays their system would no doubt be decried as “paternalistic,” 
but in material terms the workers could consider themselves fortunate, for 
working conditions and housing were very good by the standards of the 
time. But during the 1840s the situation of the workers began to deterio¬ 
rate. Wages were reduced, hours of work increased, and greater effort was 
demanded of the workers; and this was the result not of employers’ greed 
but of market conditions that grew out of economic competition. 85 “As 
business became nationwide... the competition of different manufacturing 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

areas meant that prices and wages were no longer determined by local 
conditions. They fluctuated as a consequence of economic changes wholly 
beyond the control of the employers or workers immediately concerned.” 86 

• A recent (2012) article by Adam Davidson discusses some of 
the reasons behind the problem of unemployment in the U.S. Taking as 
an example a company he has personally investigated, Davidson writes: 
“It’s tempting to look to the owners of Standard Motor Products and ask 
them to help [unskilled workers]: to cut costs a little less relentlessly, take 
slightly lower profits, and maybe even help solve America’s jobs crisis in 
some small way.” Davidson then goes on to explain why a company like 
Standard Motor Products would not be able to survive in the face of com¬ 
petition if it did not cut costs relentlessly and, therefore, replace human 
workers with machines whenever it was profitable to do so. 87 Here again 
we see that “[t]he businessman... [is] only the agent of economic forces 
and developments beyond his control.” 88 

In the last two examples the options open to leaders of organizations 
were limited not by technical factors alone, but by these in conjunction 
with competition from outside the organization. But even independently 
of external competition and of any “conflict of wills” within a system, 
technical factors by themselves severely limit the choices available to the 
system’s leaders. Not even dictators can escape these limitations. 

• In the Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Spain we find: “For 
almost 20 years after the [Spanish Civil War], the [Franco regime] followed 
a policy of... national economic self-sufficiency... . Spain’s policies of eco¬ 
nomic self-sufficiency were a failure, and by the late 1950s the country was 
on the verge of economic collapse.” 89 

Unwilling to rely solely on the foregoing brief passage for twenty years 
of Spanish economic history, this writer consulted a Spanish correspondent, 
who sent him copies of pages from relevant historical works. 90 It turned 
out that the Britannicas account—perhaps unavoidably in view of its brev¬ 
ity—was oversimplified to the point of being seriously misleading. Among 
other things, it isn’t clear to what extent Spain’s policy of self-sufficiency 
was voluntarily chosen and to what extent it was forced on the country, first 
by the conditions prevailing during World War II and later by the Western 
democracies’ hostility to the authoritarian regime of Franco. Much of this 
history is beyond the understanding of those of us who have no special¬ 
ized knowledge of economics, but one thing does emerge clearly: Quite 
apart from any external competition or internal conflict, economic reality 

Chapter One: Part III 


imposes narrow limits on what even an authoritarian regime can do with 
a nation’s economy. A dictator cannot run an economy the way a general 
runs an army—by giving orders from above—because the economy won’t 
follow orders. 91 In other words, not even a powerful dictator like Francisco 
Franco can overrule the laws of economics. 

Nor can idealistic zeal overcome those laws. 

• In the years following the Cuban Revolution of 1956-59, U.S. 
media propaganda portrayed Fidel Castro as motivated by a lust for power, 
but actually Castro started out with generalized humanitarian and demo¬ 
cratic goals. 92 Once he had overthrown the Batista government, he found 
that, despite the immense power conferred on him by his personal cha¬ 
risma, 93 the options open to him were extremely limited. Circumstances 
forced him to choose between democracy and the deep social reforms that 
he envisioned; he couldn’t have both. Since his basic goals were his social 
ones he had to abandon democracy, become a dictator, and Stalinize and 
militarize Cuban society. 94 

There can be no doubt about the idealistic zeal of the Cuban rev¬ 
olutionaries, 95 and Castro was as powerful as any charismatic dictator 
could ever be. 96 Even so, the revolutionary regime was unable to control 
the development of Cuban society: Castro admitted that he had failed 
to curb the bureaucratic tendencies of Cuba’s administrative apparatus. 97 
Notwithstanding the regime’s strong ideological opposition to racism, “the 
drive to promote... blacks and mixed race Cubans to leadership positions 
within the government and Party” was only partly successful, as Castro 
himself acknowledged. 98 In fact, Cuban efforts to combat racism do not 
seem to have been any more successful than those of the United States. 99 
The Castro regime achieved no more than minimal success in its attempt to 
free the Cuban economy from its almost total dependence on sugar and to 
industrialize the country. 100 To survive at all economically, the regime was 
forced to abandon its attempt to build “socialism” (as conceived by Cuba’s 
idealistic leaders) within a short period. It was found necessary instead to 
make ideologically painful compromises with economic reality, 101 and even 
with these compromises the Cuban economy has remained no more than 
barely viable. 102 

A contributing factor in Cuba’s economic failure was the embargo 
imposed by the United States: U.S. firms were forbidden to trade with 
Cuba. But this factor was not decisive, and not as important as admirers 
of the Castro regime liked to think. Cuba could trade with most of the 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

economically important countries of the world other than the U.S., and 
was even able to trade indirectly with major U.S. corporations by deal¬ 
ing with their subsidiaries in other countries. 103 The embargo was far less 
important than Cuba’s inability to free itself from its excessive depen¬ 
dence on sugar or even to run its sugar industry efficiently. 104 Another 
factor in Cuba’s economic failure was a lack of cooperation within Cuban 
society—Engels’s “conflicts among many individual wills.” There were 
absenteeism, passive resistance to production quotas, and “stolid peasant 
resistance.” 105 “Individualistic” tendencies led to pilfering, waste, and even 
to major criminal activity. 106 In addition, there were conflicts within the 
Cuban power-structure. 107 Almost certainly, however, the decisive factor 
in Cuba’s failure has been the Castro regime’s refusal to comply with the 
technical requirements for economic success: The regime compromised 
its ideology only as far as was necessary for bare survival, and declined to 
accept those elements of the free market and of capitalism that might have 
made vigorous development possible. That this factor was decisive is shown 
by the fact that purely socialist economies have failed all over the world. 108 

IV. There is yet another—and critically important—reason why a 
society cannot “steer” itself in the manner suggested at the beginning of 
Part III of this chapter: Every complex, large-scale society is subject to 
internal developments generated by “natural selection” operating on systems 
that exist within the society. This factor is discussed at length in Chapter 
Two; here we will only sketch the argument in the briefest possible terms. 

Through a process analogous to biological evolution there arise, 
within any complex, large-scale society, self-preserving or self-reproducing 
systems large and small (including, for example, business enterprises, politi¬ 
cal parties or movements, open or covert social networks such as networks of 
corrupt officials) that struggle to survive and propagate themselves. Because 
power is a cardinal tool for survival, these systems compete for power. 

Biological organisms, evolving through natural selection, eventu¬ 
ally invade every niche in which biological survival is possible at all, 
and, whatever measures may be taken to suppress them, some organisms 
will find ways of surviving nonetheless. Within any complex, large-scale 
society, a similar process will produce self-propagating systems that 
will invade every corner and circumvent all attempts to suppress them. 
These systems will compete for power without regard to the objectives 
of any government (or other entity) that may try to steer the society. Our 

Chapter One: Part V 


argument—admittedlyimpossible at present to prove conclusively—is that 
these self-propagating systems will constitute uncontrollable forces that 
will render futile in the long run all efforts to steer the society rationally. 
For details, see Chapter Two. 

V. Notwithstanding all the arguments we’ve reviewed in the present 
chapter up to this point, let’s make the unrealistic assumption that tech¬ 
niques for manipulating the internal dynamics of a society will some day 
be developed to such a degree that a single, all-powerful leader (we’ll be 
charitable and call him a philosopher-king 109 rather than a dictator)—or a 
group of leaders small enough (< 6?) to be free of “conflicts among indi¬ 
vidual wills” within the group—will be able to steer a society as suggested 
at the beginning of Part III, above. 

The notion of authoritarian rule by a single leader or a small group 
of leaders is not as far-fetched as it may appear to the denizens of modern, 
liberal democracies. Many people in the world already live under the author¬ 
ity of one man or a few, and when the technological society gets itself into 
sufficiently serious trouble, as it is likely to do in the coming decades, even 
the denizens of liberal democracies will begin looking for solutions that 
today seem out of the question. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, 
many Americans—mainstream people, not kooks out on the fringes—felt 
disillusioned with democracy 110 and advocated rule by a dictator or an oli¬ 
garchy (a “supercouncil” or a “directorate”). 111 Many admired Mussolini. 112 
During the same period, many Britons admired Hitler’s Germany. “Lloyd 
George’s reaction to Hitler was typical: ‘If only we had a man of his supreme 
quality in England today,’ he said.” 113 

Returning, then, to our hypothetical dictator, or philosopher-king 
as we’ve decided to call him, we’ll assume, however implausibly, that he 
will somehow be able to overcome the problems of complexity, of the con¬ 
flicts of many individual wills, of resistance by subordinates, and of the 
competitive, power-seeking groups or systems that will evolve within any 
complex, large-scale society. Even under this unreal assumption we will 
still run into fundamental difficulties. 

The first problem is: Who is going to choose the philosopher-king 
and how will they put him into power? Given the vast disparities of goals 
and values (“conflicts among individual wills”) in any large-scale society, it 
is hardly likely that the rule of any one philosopher-king could be consistent 
with the goals and values of a majority of the population, or even with the 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

goals and values of a majority of any elite stratum (the intellectuals, say, or 
scientists, or rich people)—except to the extent that the philosopher-king, 
once in power, might use propaganda or other techniques of human engi¬ 
neering to bring the values of the majority into line with his own. If the 
realities of practical politics are taken into account, it seems that anyone 
who might actually become a philosopher-king either would have to be a 
compromise candidate, a bland fellow whose chief concern would be to 
avoid offending anyone, or else would have to be the ruthless leader of an 
aggressive faction that drives its way to power. In the latter case he might 
be an unscrupulous person intent only on attaining power for himself (a 
Hitler), or he might be a sincere fanatic convinced of the righteousness of his 
cause (a Lenin), but either way he would stop at nothing to achieve his goals. 

Thus, the citizen who might find the idea of a philosopher-king 
attractive should bear in mind that he himself would not select the 
philosopher-king, and that any philosopher-king who might come into 
power would probably not be the kind that he imagines or hopes for. 

A further problem is that of selecting a successor when the 
philosopher-king dies. Each philosopher-king will have to be able to pre¬ 
select reliably a successor whose goals and values are virtually identical to 
his own; for, otherwise, the first philosopher-king will steer the society 
in one direction, the second philosopher-king will steer the society in a 
somewhat different direction, the third philosopher-king will steer it in yet 
another direction, and so forth. The result will be that the development 
of the society in the long term will wander at random, rather than being 
steered in any consistent direction or in accord with any consistent policy 
as to what constitute desirable or undesirable outcomes. 

Historically, in absolute monarchies of any kind—the Roman Empire 
makes a convenient example—it has proven impossible even to ensure 
the succession of rulers who are reasonably competent and conscientious. 
Capable, conscientious rulers have alternated with those who have been 
irresponsible, corrupt, vicious or incompetent. As for a long, unbroken 
succession of rulers, each of whom not only is competent and conscientious 
but also has goals and values closely approximating those of his predeces¬ 
sor—you can forget it. All of these arguments, by the way, apply not only to 
philosopher-kings but also to philosopher-oligarchs—ruling groups small 
enough so that Engels’s “conflicts among many individual wills” do not 
come into play. 

Chapter One: Part VI 


All the same, let’s assume that it would somehow be possible to 
ensure the succession of a long line of philosopher-kings all of whom would 
govern in accord with a single, permanently stable system of values. In that 
event... but hold on... let’s pause and take stock of the assumptions we’ve 
been making. We’re assuming, among other things, that the problems 
of complexity, chaos, and the resistance of subordinates, also the purely 
technical factors that limit the options open to leaders, as well as the 
competitive, power-seeking groups that evolve within a society under the 
influence of natural selection, can all be overcome to such an extent that 
an all-powerful leader will be able to govern the society rationally; we’re 
assuming that the “conflicts among many individual wills” within the 
society can be resolved well enough so that it will be possible to make a 
rational choice of leader, we’re assuming that means will be found to put the 
chosen leader into a position of absolute power and to guarantee forever the 
succession of competent and conscientious leaders who will govern in accord 
with some stable and permanent system of values. And if the hypothetical 
possibility of steering a society rationally is to afford any comfort to the 
reader, he will have to assume that the system of values according to which 
the society is steered will be one that is at least marginally acceptable to 
himself—which is a sufficiently daring assumption. 

It’s now clear that we have wandered into the realm of fantasy. It is 
impossible to prove with mathematical certainty that the development of a 
society can never be guided rationally over any significant interval of time, 
but the series of assumptions that we’ve had to make in order to entertain 
the possibility of rational guidance is so wildly improbable that for practical 
purposes we can safely assume that the development of societies will forever 
remain beyond rational human control. 114 

VI. It’s likely that the chief criticism to be leveled at this chapter 
will be that the writer has expended a great deal of ink and paper to prove 
what “everyone” already knows. Unfortunately, however, not everyone does 
know that the development of societies can never be subject to rational 
human control; and even many who would agree with that proposition as 
an abstract principle fail to apply the principle in concrete cases. Again and 
again we find seemingly intelligent people proposing elaborate schemes 
for solving society’s problems, completely oblivious to the fact that such 
schemes never, never, never are carried out successfully. In a particularly 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

fuddled excursion into fantasy written several decades ago, the noted tech¬ 
nology critic Ivan Illich asserted that “society must be reconstructed to 
enlarge the contribution of autonomous individuals and primary groups 
to the total effectiveness of a new system of production designed to satisfy 
the human needs which it also determines,” and that a “convivial society 
should be designed to allow all its members the most autonomous action 
by means of tools least controlled by others” 115 —as if a society could be 
consciously and rationally “reconstructed” or “designed.” Other egregious 
examples of this sort of folly were provided by Arne Naess 116 and Chellis 
Glendinning 117 in 1989 and 1990, respectively; these are discussed in Part 
IV of Chapter Three of the present work. 

Right down to the present (2013), people who should know better 
have continued to ignore the fact that the development of societies can 
never be rationally controlled. Thus, we often find technophiles making 
such absurd statements as: “humanityis in charge of its own fate”; “[we will] 
take charge of our own evolution”; or, “people [will] seize control of the 
evolutionary process.” 118 The technophiles want to “guide research so that 
technology improve[s] society”; they have created a “Singularity University” 
and a “Singularity Institute” that are supposed to “shape the advances and 
help society cope with the ramifications” of technological progress, and 
“make sure... that artificial intelligence... is friendly” to humans. 119 

Of course, the technophiles won’t be able to “shape the advances” of 
technology or make sure that they “improve society” and are friendly to 
humans. Technological advances will be “shaped” in the long run by unpre¬ 
dictable and uncontrollable power-struggles among rival groups that will 
develop and apply technology for the sole purpose of gaining advantages 
over their competitors. See Chapter Two of this book. 

It’s not likely that the majority of technophiles fully believe in this 
drivel about “shaping the advances” of technology to “improve society.” In 
practice, Singularity University serves mainly to promote the interests of 
technology-oriented businessmen, 120 while the fantasies about “improving 
society” function as propaganda that helps to forestall public resistance to 
radical technological innovation. But such propaganda is effective only 
because many laymen are naive enough to take the fantasies seriously. 

Whatever may be the motives behind the technophiles’ schemes for 
“improving society,” other such schemes unquestionably are sincere. For 
recent examples, see the books by Jeremy Rifkin (2011) 121 and Bill Ivey 
(2012). 122 There are other examples that superficially lookmore sophisticated 

Chapter One: Part VI 


than the proposals of Rifkin and Ivey but are equally impossible to carry 
out in practice. In a book published in 2011, Nicholas Ashford and Ralph P. 
Hall 123 “offer a unified, transdisciplinary approach for achieving sustainable 
development in industrialized nations. ... The authors argue for the design 
of multipurpose solutions to the sustainability challenge that integrate eco¬ 
nomics, employment, technology, environment, industrial development, 
national and international law, trade, finance, and public and worker health 
and safety.” 124 Ashford and Hall do not intend their book to be merely an 
abstract speculation like Plato’s Republic 125 or Thomas More’s Utopia-, they 
imagine themselves to be offering a practical program. 126 

In another example (2011), Naomi Klein proposes massive, elaborate, 
worldwide “planning” 127 that is supposed to bring global warming under 
control, 128 help with many of our other environmental problems, 129 and at 
the same time bring us “real democracy,” 130 “rein in” 131 the corporations, 
alleviate unemployment, 132 reduce wasteful consumption in rich countries 133 
while allowing poor countries to continue their economic growth, 134 foster 
“interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than 
dominance and cooperation rather than hierarchy,” 135 “elegantly weav[e] 
all these struggles into a coherent narrative about how to protect life on 
earth,” 136 and overall promote a “progressive” agenda 137 so as to create a 
“healthy, just world.” 138 

One is tempted to ask whether the schemes concocted by people like 
Ashford, Hall, and Klein are meant as an elaborate joke of some sort; but 
no, the intentions of these authors are quite serious. How can they possibly 
believe that schemes like theirs will ever be carried out in the real world? 
Are they totally devoid of any practical sense about human affairs? Maybe. 
But a more likely explanation is unwittingly offered by Naomi Klein her¬ 
self: “[I]t is always easier to deny reality than to watch your worldview get 
shattered... ,” 139 The worldview of most members of the upper middle class, 
including most intellectuals, is deeply dependent on the existence of a thor¬ 
oughly organized, culturally “advanced,” large-scale society characterized by 
a high level of social order. It would be extremely difficult psychologically 
for such people to recognize that the only way to get off the road to disaster 
that we are now on would be through a total collapse of organized society 
and therefore a descent into chaos. So they cling to any scheme, however 
unrealistic, that promises to preserve the society on which their lives and 
their worldview are dependent; and one suspects that the threat to their 
worldview is more important to them than the threat to their lives. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 


1. Redondilla, in Barja, p. 176. Free translation: “Where there is a plan for 
good, some evil derails it. The good comes but proves ineffective, while the evil 
is effective and persists.” 

2. Tacitus, Book III, Chapt. 18, p. 112. 

3. This is somewhat of an oversimplification, but it’s close enough to the 
truth for our purposes. See NEB (2003), Vol. 4, “Federal Reserve System,” p. 712, 
and Vol. 8, “monetary policy,” pp. 251-52; World Book Encyclopedia , 2011, Vol. 7, 
“Federal Reserve System,” p. 65. 

4. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, “Greek and Roman Civilizations,” pp. 295-96. 

5. Ibid., pp. 304-05. 

6. NEB (1997), Vol. 22, “Italy,” p. 195. 

7. Simon Bolivar, Letter to Gen. Juan Jose Flores, Nov. 9,1830, in Soriano, 

p. 169. 

8. Heilbroner 8c Singer, p. 122. 

9. Patterson, pp. 402-03. 

10. The facts are outlined by Patterson, pp. 396-405, but the conclusions 
drawn from the facts are my own. 

11. There are at least three categories of exceptions to this rule, as noted in 
Kaczynski, p. 279, but these exceptions have little relevance to the present chapter. 

12. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, “Greek and Roman Civilizations,” pp. 228-29. 
But see Starr, pp. 314, 315, 317, 334 8c note 8, 350, 358. 

13. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, “Germany,” p. 114. 

14. NEB (2003), Vol. 15, “Bismarck,” p. 124. For Bismarck’s career gener¬ 
ally, see ibid., pp. 121-24; ibid., Vol. 20, “Germany,” pp. 109-114; Zimmermann, 
Chapts. 18c7; Dorpalen, pp. 219-220,229-231, 255-56, 259-260 8c note 53. 

15. Constitution ofthe United States, Amendments XVIII 8cXXI. Patterson, 
pp. 167-69. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “United States of America,” pp. 254-55. Vergano, 
p. 3A, says that according to Arthur Lurigio of Loyola University Chicago, 
“Prohibition... was unique in its widespread loathing by the populace and that 
opening is what enabled organized crime to gain its political footing in Chicago.” 

16. Naruo Uehara, p. 235. 

17. Bourne, pp. 46-47. 

18. E.g.: SohailEjazet al., pp. 98-102 (Pakistan, medical effects); Yukinori 
Okada 8cSusumu Wakai, pp. 236-242 (Thailand, economic and medical effects); 
Naruo Uehara, p. 235 (various effects, including desertification in unspecified 
countries); Aditya Batra (Sri Lanka, medical effects); Guillette et ah, pp. 347-353 
(Mexico, medical and behavioral effects); Watts (entire work) (various countries, 
various effects). 

Chapter One: Notes 


19. NEB (2003), Vol. 4, “Eisenhower, Dwight D(avid),” p. 405; Vol. 18, 
“Energy Conversion,” p. 383; Vol. 29, “United Nations,” p. 144. 

20. Smith 8c Weiner, pp. 271, 291, 295, 310, 311, 328. 

21. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “United Nations,” p. 144. 

22. F. Zakaria, p. 34. 

23. The Economist, June 18, 2011, “Move the base camp,” pp. 18, 20, and 
“The growing appeal of zero,” p. 69. 

24. See Kaczynski, pp. 314-15, 417-18; “Radioactive fuel rods: The silent 
threat,” The Week, April 15, 2011, p. 13. 

25. Joy, p. 239. 

26. Steele, pp. 5-21. It is also claimed that a free market provides a mech¬ 
anism that “automatically” maximizes the efficiency of an economy. This last 
contention is unproven and probably far from accurate, but the argument that 
excessive complexity makes rationally planned economies impossible is very strong. 

27. Ibid., p. 83. Stigler, p. 113. 

28. “It is ‘absurd’ to suppose that the information could be collected... .” 
Steele, p. 83. 

29. The text of the talk can be found in Lorenz, pp. 181-84. 

30. Time, May 5, 2008, p. 18. The Week, May 2, 2008, p. 35. 

31. NEB (2003), Vol. 3, “chaos,” p. 92. 

32. Ibid., Vol. 25, “Physical Sciences, Principles of,” p. 826. 

33. Ibid., pp. 826-27. 

34. Ibid., p. 826. 

35. See Kaczynski, pp. 357-58. 

36. See Kelly, pp. 159ff. But Moore himself thinks the law is a “self- 
fulfilling prophecy,” i.e., it continues to hold true only because people believe in 
it. Ibid., p. 162. 

37. Kurzweil, e.g., pp. 351-368. 

38. Russell’s Paradox: Let a set be called “ordinary” if, and only if, it is not 
a member of itself, and let S be the set of all ordinary sets. Is S ordinary, or not? 

39. See note 36. 

40. Thurston, p. xviii. 

41. Heilbroner 8c Singer, p. 112. 

42. Elias, p. 543 note 1. 

43. Ibid., p. 367. However, Elias continues: “But itisbyno means impossi¬ 
ble that we can make of it something more ‘reasonable,’ something that functions 
better in terms of our needs and purposes. For it is precisely in conjunction with 
the civilizing process that the blind dynamics of people intertwining in their deeds 
and aims gradually leads toward greater scope for planned intervention into both 
the social and individual structures—intervention based on a growing knowledge 
of the unplanned dynamics of these structures.” But Elias does not even pretend 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

to offer any evidence to support this statement, which is mere speculation—in 
contrast to his statements about the unplanned and unintended character of all 
earlier historical change, which are abundantly supported by his empirical studies 
of the ways in which European society changed in the past. What Elias suggests 
here looks very much like the proposal set forth at the beginning of Part III of 
the present chapter, and that proposal is disposed of in Part III. 

When Elias claims that “we can make of [society]... something that func¬ 
tions better in terms of our needs and purposes,” he fails to explain who this “we” 
is. Obviously, “we” don’t all have the same purposes, and the effort to fulfill some 
of “our” needs (e.g., status, power) inevitably brings us into conflict with others 
among the “we.” See Parts III and IV of this chapter. 

Though the edition of Elias’s book cited here is dated 2000, the content 
was written several decades earlier. Since that time there has been no discernible 
improvement in humans’ capacity for “planned intervention” in the development 
of their societies. If anything, our statesmen seem even less in control of events 
than they were in the past. Elias’s formative years were in the first half of the 20th 
century, when a belief in “progress” was still widely current. Elias seems to have 
been reluctant—not for rational reasons—to relinquish that belief. His remarks 
on that subject, ibid., pp. 462-63, are ill-advised. 

44. Engels, Letter to Joseph Bloch, as referenced in our List of Works Cited. 
Engels of course wrote in German. The translation given here is influenced both 
by the English translation in Historical Materialism (see the List ofWorks Cited), 
pp. 294-96, and by the Spanish translation provided by Carrillo, pp. 111-12. Since 
Carrillo was Secretary General of the Communist Party of Spain, he presumably 
was learned in Engels’s ideas. 

45. Elias, p. 311. But see note 43, above. 

46. See Kaczynski, p. 314. The problem of the commons is also called the 
“tragedy of the commons,” and the term is often used in a narrower sense than that 
in which I use it here. See, e.g., Diamond, pp. 428-430. But the term is also used 
in the broader sense in which I apply it. E.g., The Economist, April 2, 2011, p. 75. 
Without using the term “problem” or “tragedy of the commons,” Surowiecki, p. 25, 
has illustrated the concept by giving several excellent examples of ways in which 
“individually rational decisions [can] add[ ] up to a collectively irrational result.” 

47. The second sentence of this paragraph is based on my notes of a con¬ 
versation with Lt. Lewis, written within a couple of hours after the end of that 
conversation. The relevant pages are No. 04-1013 and No. 04-1016 of my Bates- 
numbered notes to my attorneys, which should now be in the Labadie Collection 
at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library. The last sentence of 
the paragraph is based on my recollection (2012) of the same conversation. 

48. From a speech attributed to Caesar by Sallust, Conspiracy of Catiline, 
section 51, p. 217. Roman historians commonly invented the speeches that they 

Chapter One: Notes 


attributed to famous people, but the quoted statement is worth noting whether it 
represented Caesar’s opinion or Sallust’s. 

49. Brathwait, quoted by Boorstin, pp. 99-100. I’ve taken the liberty of 
modernizing spelling and capitalization. 

50. NEB (2003), Vol. 23, “Lincoln,” p. 36. 

51. Sampson, pp. 454-55. See also p. 436 (Mandela ‘“was still operating 
under the illusion, cherished by so many revolutionaries,’ complained de Klerk..., 
‘that possession of the levers of government enabled those in power to achieve 
whatever goals they wanted.’”). 

52. Ibid., p. 498. 

53. Rossiter, pp. 52-64. 

54. Ibid., p. 54. 

55. Ibid. 

56. Ibid., pp. 167-68. 

57. Mote, p. 98. 

58. Ibid., p. 99. 

59. Ibid. 

60. Ibid. 

61. See ibid., pp. 99-100. 

62. Ibid., p. 139. 

63. NEB (2003), Vol. 16, “China,” p. 100. Mote, pp. 139-142. 

64. NEB (2003), loc. cit. 

65. Mote, p. 142. NEB (2003), loc. cit. 

66. Mote, p. 142. For emperors’ dates see ibid., p. 105, Chart 2. Zhezong 
technically became emperor in 1085, but the country was governed by a regent 
until approximately 1093. 

67. Ibid., p. 207. 

68. Ibid., p. 143. 

69. Ibid., p. 207. 

70. Ibid., p. 143. 

71. Elias, pp. 312-344. 

72. Ibid., pp. 343-44. 

73. Ibid., p. 38. For an inkling of the limitations on what one very nearly 
absolute monarch can do today, see Goldberg, pp. 44-55 (about King Abdullah 
II of Jordan). 

74. NEB (2003), Vol. 14, “Austria,” pp. 518-520. 

75. Dorpalen, p. 418. 

76. Cebrian et al., p. 1058 (journalistic account). 

77. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “World Wars,” p. 1016. Gilbert, Second World War, 
pp. 551, 553, 555-59. Cebrian et al., pp. 1058-1063, provide interesting details. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

78. The conspirators were “[a]larmed at the calamitous course of events 
and disgusted by the crimes of the Nazi regime.” NEB (2003), loc. cit. Col. 
Stauffenberg, the “chief conspirator... became disillusioned with the German occu¬ 
pation’s brutal policies towardSlavs and Jews.” NEB (2010), Vol. 11, “Stauffenberg, 
Claus, Graf Schenk von,” p. 226. After the failure of the assassination attempt 
another of the chief conspirators, Major General Tresckow, declared before com¬ 
mitting suicide: “God once promised Abraham to spare Sodom, should there be 
ten just men in the city. He will, I hope, spare Germany because of what we have 
done, and not destroy her.” Gilbert, Second. World War ; p. 558. 

79. Thurston, p. 169. For other information on the regime’s inability to 
control its labor force, see ibid., pp. 167-172, 176,184. 

80. Ibid., p. 172. 

81. Ibid., p. 171. 

82. Ibid., pp. 17, 57, 90,106,112,147, 227-28, 233. 

83. Norris, Book II, Chapter VIII, pp. 285-86. I’ve taken the liberty of 
improving the capitalization and punctuation. 

84. Patterson, p. 65. 

85. Dulles, pp. 73-75. 

86. Ibid., p. 99. 

87. Davidson, pp. 66ff. 

88. Heilbroner 8c Singer, p. 84. 

89. NEB (2003), Vol. 28, “Spain,” p. 10. 

90. Sueiro 8c Diaz Nosty, pp. 309-317. Suarez, pp. 231-33, 418, 471-72, 
483-88. Payne, pp. 16-23. 

91. See Payne, p. 17 (“[Franco era] un ignorante del funcionamiento de la 
economia—como casi todos los dictadores—y creia que se podia lidiar con ella 
como lo hacia un general con su ejercito: dando ordenes y directrices desde arriba 
sobre como debia comportarse.”). 

92. Matthews, pp. 79, 108. Horowitz, pp. 64, 127-28. 

93. Matthews, pp. 76, 96-97, 337. Horowitz, pp. 46, 146-47. 

94. Matthews, pp. 108, 201. Horowitz, pp. 41-84, 128,130-32,145, 157. 

95. Matthews, pp. 83, 337-38. Horowitz, pp. 129-130, 133. Saney, pp. 
19, 40 note 1. 

96. E.g., Matthews, pp. 76, 254, 337; Horowitz, pp. 41, 46, 47, 56. 

97. Horowitz, p. 120. Cf. Saney, pp. 20-21. 

98. Saney, pp. 112-13. 

99. This is the impression one gets from Saney, pp. 100-121. Cf. Horowitz, 

p. 117. 

100. Saney, pp. 19-21. Horowitz, pp. 46, 48, 60, 77, 175. Steele, p. 405 
note 17. NEB (2003), Vol. 3, “Cuba,” p. 773; Vol. 29, “West Indies,” pp. 735, 739. 

Chapter One: Notes 


101. Saney, pp. 19-20. Horowitz, pp. 129-134. Matthews, p. 201 (“... in so 
many... ways, [Castro] found that his ‘utopian’ ideas did not satisfy his real needs”). 

102. See USA Today , Sept. 9, 2010, p. 4A, May 10, 2011, p. 6A, and June 
8-10, 2012, p. 9A; Time, Sept. 27, 2010, p. 11; The Week, April 29, 2011, p. 8; 
Horowitz, p. 175. 

103. Horowitz, pp. 111-12,129,158,161-63, 174-75. 

104. See ibid., pp. 175-76. 

105. Ibid., pp. 43, 77,123. 

106. Saney, p. 21. 

107. Horowitz, e.g., pp. 30, 75-77,120. 

108. Other factors contributing to Cuba’s economic failure were: (i) The 
limited natural and human resources of the island. Saney, pp. 15, 19. Horowitz, 
p. 145. But Singapore had negligible natural resources, yet built an impressively 
powerful economy. Human resources (trained technical personnel, etc.) can be 
created in a relatively short time, as in Japan following the Meiji Restoration. The 
Cubans would not have had to be as industrious or as skillful as the Singaporeans 
or the Japanese in order to build merely an adequate economy, (ii) Cuba’s economic 
dependence on the Soviet Union. Saney, p. 21. Horowitz, pp. 77, 99, 111, 120, 
128,147. But Cuba’s dependence was only a result of its failure from other causes. 
An economically sound nation would have been able to avoid total dependence 
on a single foreign power. 

109. The idea of a “philosopher-king” originated with Plato (see in Buchanan: 
“The Republic,” Book V, p. 492; Book VI), who seems to have entertained not only 
the notion of a single philosopher-king (ibid., Book VI, pp. 530-31), but also that 
of a philosopher-oligarchy (ibid., Book VII, p. 584: “.. .when the true philosopher 
kings are born in a State, one or more of them...”). From respect for the female 
sex, let’s note that the hypothetical philosopher “king” considered in Part V of 
this chapter could just as well be a philosopher-queen. 

110. Leuchtenburg, pp. 26, 27. 

111. Ibid., p. 30. 

112. Ibid., pp. 30 note 43, 221-22. 

113. Gilbert, European Powers, pp. 191-92. 

114. True believers in technology like Ray Kurzweil and Kevin Kelly will no 
doubt propose futuristic, hypertechnological solutions to the problem of rational 
guidance of a society. For our answer, see Appendix One. 

115. Illich, pp. 10, 20. 

116. Naess, pp. 92-103. 

117. Glendinning, as referenced in our List ofWorks Cited. 

118. Grossman, p. 49, col. 1, col. 3. Vance, p. 1. 

119. Grossman, p. 48, col. 3. Markoff, “Ay Robot!,” p. 4, col. 2, col. 3 
(columns occupied entirely by advertisements are not counted). 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

120. See, e.g., Vance, p. 1 (Singularity University “focuses o n introducing 
entrepreneurs to promising technologies...,” etc.). 

121. Rifkin, as referenced in our List ofWorks Cited. 

122. Ivey, as referenced in our List ofWorks Cited. 

123. Ashford 6c Hall, as referenced in our List ofWorks Cited. 

124. Publisher’s description located online as of March 28, 2016 at: 
sustainable-development. The bit quoted here does truthfully describe the content 
of the book. 

125. Plato did not regard his “Republic” as mere abstract speculation; he 
thought he was describing, at least to a rough approximation, a practical possibility. 
See in Buchanan: “The Republic,” Book V, pp. 491-92; Book VI, pp. 530-31; 
Book VII, p. 584. But in modern times—as far as I know—Plato’s “Republic” has 
always been treated as theoretical speculation, not as a description of a practical 

126. Ashford 6c Hall, p. 1 (“We hope that the prescriptions discussed in 
this work will not be regarded as utopian.”). 

127. Klein, pp. 14-15. 

128. Ibid., pp. 14-17. 

129. Ibid., p. 15. 

130. Ibid., p. 15, col. 1. 

131. Ibid.; see also p. 18, col. 1 (“reining in of the market forces”). 

132. Ibid., pp. 15, col. 1, col. 2; 16; 21, col. 2. 

133. Ibid., pp. 16; 17, col. 2. 

134. Ibid., p. 16. 

135. Ibid., p. 19, col. 2. 

136. Ibid., p. 20, col. 1. 

137. Ibid. 

138. Ibid., p. 20, col. 2. 

139. Ibid., p. 18, col. 1. 


Why the Technological System 
Will Destroy Itself 

We were recently entertained by a naive fable of the happy 
arrival of the ‘end of history,’ of the overflowing triumph of 
an all-democratic bliss; the ultimate global arrangement had 
supposedly been attained. But we all see and sense that some¬ 
thing very different is coming, something new, and perhaps 
quite stern. 

—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1 

Power is in nature the essential measure of right. 

—Ralph Waldo Emerson 2 

I. Most of the arguments set forth elsewhere in this book are reason¬ 
ably solid, but in the present chapter we go out on a limb both in making 
assumptions and in drawing inferences from them. We think our assump¬ 
tions and inferences contain at least as much truth as they need to contain 
for the purpose of reaching certain probable conclusions about the future 
of human society, but we acknowledge that rational disagreement with our 
reasoning is possible. Two things, however, can be definitely asserted: first, 
that our assumptions and inferences are reasonably accurate as applied to 
the development up to the present time of large-scale, complex societies; 
second, that anyone who wants to understand the likely future development 
of modern society will have to give careful attention to problems of the 
kind that are raised by the arguments of this chapter. 

Though we focus here on the processes of competition and natural 
selection 3 as they operate in complex societies, it is important to avoid 
confusing our viewpoint with the (now largely defunct) philosophy known 
as “Social Darwinism.” Social Darwinism didn’t merely call attention to 
natural selection as a factor in the development of societies; it also assumed 
that the winners in the contest of “survival of the fittest” were better, more 
desirable human beings than the losers were: 



Anti-Tech Revolution 

[T]he competitive struggle of business was viewed as a contest in 
which the survivors were the ‘fittest’—not merely as businessmen, but 
as champions of civilization itself. Hence businessmen transformed 
their sense of material superiority into a sense of moral and intellec¬ 
tual superiority ... Social Darwinism became a means of excusing as 
well as explaining the competitive process from which some emerged 
with power and some were ground into poverty . 4 

Here our purpose is merely to describe the role that natural selec¬ 
tion plays in the development of societies. We do not mean to suggest any 
favorable value-judgment concerning the winners in the struggle for power. 

II. This chapter deals with self-propagating systems. By a self- 
propagating system (self-prop system for short) we mean a system that 
tends to promote its own survival and propagation. A system may propagate 
itself in either or both of two ways: The system may indefinitely increase 
its own size and/or power, or it may give rise to new systems that possess 
some of its own attributes. 

The most obvious examples of self-propagating systems are biological 
organisms. Groups of biological organisms can also constitute self-prop sys¬ 
tems; e.g., wolf packs or hives of honeybees. Particularly important for our 
purposes are self-prop systems that consist of groups of human beings. For 
example, nations, corporations, labor unions, churches, and political parties; 
also some groups that are not clearly delimited and lack formal organization, 
such as schools of thought, social networks, and subcultures. Just as wolf- 
packs and beehives are self-propagating without any conscious intention 
on the part of wolves or bees to propagate their packs or their hives, there 
is no reason why a human group cannot be self-propagating independently 
of any intention on the part of the individuals who comprise the group. 

If A and B are systems of any kind (self-propagating or not), and if A 
is a functioning component of B, then we will call A a subsystem of B, and we 
will call B a supersystem of A. For example, in human hunting-and-gathering 
societies, nuclear families 5 belong to bands, and bands often are organized 
into tribes. Nuclear families, bands, and tribes are all self-prop systems. The 
nuclear family is a subsystem of the band, the band is a subsystem of the 
tribe, the tribe is a supersystem of each band that belongs to it, and each 
band is a supersystem of every nuclear family that belongs to that band. 
It is also true that each nuclear family is a subsystem of the tribe and that 

Chapter Two: Part II 


the tribe is a supersystem of every nuclear family that belongs to a band 
that belongs to the tribe. 

The principle of natural selection is operative not only in biology, 
but in any environment in which self-propagating systems are present. The 
principle can be stated roughly as follows: 

Those self-propagating systems having the traits that best suit them 
to survive and propagate themselves tend to survive and propagate them¬ 
selves better than other self-propagating systems. 

This of course is an obvious tautology, so it tells us nothing new. But 
it can serve to call our attention to factors that we might otherwise overlook. 

We are about to advance several propositions that are not tautologies. 
We can’t prove these propositions, but they are intuitively plausible and they 
seem consistent with the observable behavior of self-propagating systems 
as represented by biological organisms and human (formal or informal) 
organizations. In short, we believe these propositions to be true, or as close 
to the truth as they need to be for present purposes. 

Proposition 1. In any environment that is sufficiently rich, self- 
propagating systems will arise, and natural selection will lead to the 
evolution of self-propagating systems having increasingly complex, subtle, 
and sophisticated means of surviving and propagating themselves. 

It needs to be emphasized that natural selection doesn’t merely act in 
simple ways, as by making the legs of deer longer so that they can run faster 
or giving arctic mammals thicker coats of fur so that they can stay warm. 
Natural selection can also lead to the development of complex structures 
such as the human eye or heart, and to systems of far greater complexity that 
still are not fully understood, such as the human immune system or nervous 
system. We maintain that natural selection can lead to equally complex 
and subtle developments in self-prop systems consisting of human groups. 

Natural selection operates relative to particular periods of time. Let’s 
start at some given point in time that we can call Time Zero. Those self¬ 
prop systems that are most likely to survive (or have surviving progeny) 
at five years from Time Zero are those that are best suited to survive and 
propagate themselves (in competition 6 with other self-prop systems) during 
the five-year period following Time Zero. These will not necessarily be 
the same as those self-prop systems that, in the absence of competition 
during the five-year period, would be best suited to survive and propagate 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

themselves during the thirty years following Time Zero. Similarly, those 
systems best suited to survive competition during the first thirty years 
following Time Zero are not necessarily those that, in the absence of com¬ 
petition during the thirty-year period, would be best suited to survive and 
propagate themselves for two hundred years. And so forth. 

For example, suppose a forested region is occupied by a number 
of small, rival kingdoms. Those kingdoms that clear the most land for 
agricultural use can plant more crops and therefore can support a larger 
population than other kingdoms. This gives them a military advantage over 
their rivals. If any kingdom restrains itself from excessive forest-clearance 
out of concern for the long-term consequences, then that kingdom places 
itself at a military disadvantage and is eliminated by the more powerful 
kingdoms. Thus the region comes to be dominated by kingdoms that cut 
down their forests recklessly. The resulting deforestation leads eventually 
to ecological disaster and therefore to the collapse of all the kingdoms. 
Here a trait that is advantageous or even indispensable for a kingdom’s 
short-term survival—recklessness in cutting trees—leads in the long term 
to the demise of the same kingdom. 7 

This example illustrates the fact that, where a self-prop system exer¬ 
cises foresight, 8 in the sense that concern for its own long-term survival and 
propagation leads it to place limitations on its efforts for short-term survival 
and propagation, the system puts itself at a competitive disadvantage relative 
to those self-prop systems that pursue short-term survival and propagation 
without restraint. This leads us to 

Proposition 2. In the short term, natural selection favors self- 
propagating systems that pursue their own short-term advantage with little 
or no regard for long-term consequences. 

A corollary to Proposition 2 is 

Proposition 3. Self-propagating subsystems of a given supersystem 
tend to become dependent on the supersystem and on the specific conditions 
that prevail within the supersystem. 

This means that between the supersystem and its self-prop subsys¬ 
tems, there tends to develop a relationship of such a nature that, in the 
event of the destruction of the supersystem or of any drastic acceleration of 

Chapter Two: Part II 


changes in the conditions prevailing within the supersystem, the subsystems 
can neither survive nor propagate themselves. 

A self-prop system with sufficient foresight would make provision 
for its own or its descendants’ survival in the event of the collapse or desta¬ 
bilization of the supersystem. But as long as the supersystem exists and 
remains more or less stable, natural selection favors those subsystems that 
take fullest advantage of the opportunities available within the supersys¬ 
tem, and disfavors those subsystems that “waste” some of their resources in 
preparing themselves to survive the eventual destabilization of the super¬ 
system. Under these conditions, self-prop systems will tend very strongly 
to become incapable of surviving the destabilization of any supersystem to 
which they belong. 

Like the other propositions put forward in this chapter, Proposition 
3 has to be applied with a dose of common sense. If the supersystem in 
question is weak and loosely organized, or if it has no more than a modest 
effect on the conditions in which its subsystems exist, the subsystems 
may not become strongly dependent on the supersystem. Among hunter- 
gatherers in some (not all) environments, a nuclear family would be able to 
survive and propagate itself independently of the band to which it belongs. 
Because tribes of hunter-gatherers are loosely organized it seems certain 
that in most cases a hunting-and-gathering band would be able to survive 
independently of the tribe to which it belongs. Many labor unions might 
be able to survive the demise of a confederation of labor unions such as 
the AFL-CIO, because such an event might not fundamentally affect the 
conditions under which labor unions have to function. But labor unions 
could not survive the demise of modern industrial society, or even the 
demise merely of the legal and constitutional framework that makes it 
possible for labor unions as we know them to operate. Nor would many 
present-day business enterprises survive without modern industrial society. 
Domestic sheep, if deprived of human protection, would soon be killed off 
by predators. And so forth. 

Clearly a system cannot be effectively organized for its own survival 
and propagation unless the different parts of the system can promptly com¬ 
municate with one another and lend aid to one another. In order to operate 
effectively throughout a given geographical region, a self-prop system must 
be able to receive prompt information from, and take prompt action within, 
every part of the region. 9 Consequently, 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Proposition 4. Problems of transportation and communication impose 
a limit on the size of the geographical region over which a self-prop system 
can extend its operations. 

Human experience suggests: 

Proposition 5. The most important and the only consistent limit on the 
size of the geographical regions over which self-propagating human groups 
extend their operations is the limit imposed by the available means of trans¬ 
portation and communication. In other words, while not all self-propagating 
human groups tend to extend their operations over a region of maximum 
size, natural selection tends to produce some self-propagating human groups 
that operate over regions approaching the maximum size allowed by the 
available means of transportation and communication. 

Propositions 4 and 5 can be seen operating in human history. 
Primitive bands or tribes usually have territories that they “own,” but these 
are relatively small because human feet are the only means of transporta¬ 
tion available to these societies. However, primitives who have numerous 
horses and live in open country over which horses can travel freely, like 
the Plains Indians of North America, can hold much larger territories. 
Pre-industrial civilizations built empires that extended over vast distances, 
but these empires actively created, if they did not already have, relatively 
rapid means of transportation and communication. 10 Such empires grew 
to a certain geographical size, after which they stopped growing and, in 
many cases, became unstable; that is, they tended to breakup into smaller 
political units. Though the hypothesis would be difficult to prove conclu¬ 
sively, it is at least highly plausible that these empires stopped growing and 
became unstable because they were at the limit of what was possible with 
the existing means of transportation and communication. 

Today there is quick transportation and almost instant communica¬ 
tion between any two parts of the world. Hence, 

Proposition 6. In modern times, natural selection tends to produce 
some self-propagating human groups whose operations span the entire 
globe. Moreover, even if human beings are some day replaced by machines 
or other entities, natural selection will still tend to produce some self- 
propagating systems whose operations span the entire globe. 

Chapter Two: Part II 


Current experience strongly confirms this proposition: We see global 
“superpowers,” global corporations, global political movements, global reli¬ 
gions, global criminal networks. Proposition 6, we argue, is not dependent 
on any particular traits of human beings but only on the general properties 
of self-prop systems, so there is no reason to doubt that the proposition will 
remain true if and when humans are replaced by other entities: As long 
as rapid, worldwide transportation and communication remain available, 
natural selection will tend to produce or maintain self-prop systems whose 
operations span the entire globe. 

Let’s refer to such systems as global self-prop systems. Instant world¬ 
wide communications are still a relatively new phenomenon and their full 
consequences have yet to be developed; in the future we can expect global 
self-prop systems to play an even more important role than they do today. 

Proposition 7. Where (as today) problems of transportation and 
communication do not constitute effective limitations on the size of the 
geographical regions over which self-propagating systems operate, natural 
selection tends to create a world in which power is mostly concentrated 
in the possession of a relatively small number of global self-propagating 

This proposition too is suggested by human experience. But it’s easy 
to see why the proposition should be true independently of anything specif¬ 
ically human: Among global self-prop systems, natural selection will favor 
those that have the greatest power; global or other large-scale self-prop 
systems that are weaker will tend to be eliminated or subjugated. Small- 
scale self-prop systems that are too numerous or too subtle to be noticed 
individually by the dominant global self-prop systems may retain more or 
less autonomy, but each of them will have influence only within some very 
limited sphere. It may be answered that a coalition of small-scale self-prop 
systems could challenge the global self-prop systems, but if small-scale 
self-prop systems organize themselves into a coalition having worldwide 
influence, then the coalition will itself be a global self-prop system. 

We can speak of the “world-system,” meaning all things that exist 
on Earth, together with the functional relations among them. The world- 
system probably should not be regarded as a self-prop system, but whether 
it is or not is irrelevant for present purposes. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

To summarize, then, the world-system is approaching a condition 
in which it will be dominated by a relatively small number of extremely 
powerful global self-prop systems. These global systems will compete for 
power—as they must do in order to have any chance of survival—and they 
will compete for power in the short term , with little or no regard for long¬ 
term consequences (Proposition 2). Under these conditions, intuition tells 
us that desperate competition among the global self-prop systems will tear 
the world-system apart. 

Let’s try to formulate this intuition more clearly. For some hundreds 
of millions of years the terrestrial environment has had some degree of sta¬ 
bility, in the sense that conditions on Earth, though variable, have remained 
within limits that have allowed the evolution of complex life-forms such 
as fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. In the immediate 
future, all self-prop systems on this planet, including self-propagating 
human groups and any purely machine-based systems derived from them, 
will have evolved while conditions have remained within these limits, or 
at most within somewhat wider ones. By Proposition 3, the Earth’s self¬ 
prop systems will have become dependent for their survival on the fact 
that conditions have remained within these limits. Large-scale self-prop 
human groups, as well as any purely machine-based self-prop systems, will 
be dependent also on conditions of more recent origin relating to the way 
the world-system is organized; for example, conditions relating to economic 
relationships. The rapidity with which these conditions change must remain 
within certain limits, else the self-prop systems will not survive. 

This doesn’t mean that all of the world’s self-prop systems will die if 
future conditions, or the rapidity with which they change, slightly exceed 
some of these limits, but it does mean that if conditions go far enough 
beyond the limits many self-prop systems are likely to die, and if conditions 
ever vary wildly enough outside the limits, then, with near certainty, all 
of the world’s more complex self-prop systems will die without progeny. 

With several self-prop systems of global reach, armed with the 
colossal might of modern technology and competing for immediate power 
while exercising no restraint from concern for long-term consequences, it 
is extremely difficult to imagine that conditions on this planet will not be 
pushed far outside all earlier limits and batted around so erratically that 
for any of the Earth’s more complex self-prop systems, including complex 
biological organisms, the chances of survival will approach zero. 

Chapter Two: Part II 


Notice that the crucial new factor here is the availability of rapid, 
worldwide transportation and communication, as a consequence of which 
there exist global self-prop systems. There is another way of seeing that 
this situation will lead to radical disruption of the world-system. Students 
of industrial accidents know that a system is most likely to suffer a cata¬ 
strophic breakdown when (i) the system is highly complex (meaning that 
small disruptions can produce unpredictable consequences), and (ii) tightly 
coupled (meaning that a breakdown in one part of the system spreads 
quickly to other parts). 11 The world-system has been highly complex for a 
long time. What is new is that the world-system is now tightly coupled. 
This is a result of the availability of rapid, worldwide transportation and 
communication, which makes it possible for a breakdown in any one part 
of the world-system to spread to all other parts. As technology progresses 
and globalization grows more pervasive, the world-system becomes ever 
more complex and more tightly coupled, so that a catastrophic breakdown 
has to be expected sooner or later. 

It will perhaps be argued that destructive competition among global 
self-prop systems is not inevitable: A single global self-prop system might 
succeed in eliminating all of its competitors and thereafter dominate the 
world alone; or, because global self-prop systems would be relatively few 
in number, they could come to an agreement among themselves whereby 
they would refrain from all dangerous or destructive competition. However, 
while it is easy to talk about such an agreement, it is vastly more difficult 
actually to conclude one and enforce it. Just look: The world’s leading 
powers today have not been able to agree on the elimination of war or of 
nuclear weapons, or on the limitation of emissions of carbon dioxide. 

But let’s be optimistic and assume that the world has come under the 
domination of a single, unified system, which may consist of a single global 
self-prop system victorious over all its rivals, or may be a composite of several 
global self-prop systems that have bound themselves together through an 
agreement that eliminates all destructive competition among them. The 
resulting “world peace” will be unstable for three separate reasons. 

First, the world-system will still be highly complex and tightly 
coupled. Students of these matters recommend designing into industrial 
systems such safety features as “decoupling,” that is, the introduction of 
“barriers” that prevent malfunctions in one part of a system from spread¬ 
ing to other parts. 12 Such measures may be feasible, at least in theory, in 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

any relatively limited subsystem of the world-system, such as a chemical 
factory, a nuclear power-plant, or a banking system, though Perrow 13 is 
not optimistic that even these limited systems will ever be consistently 
redesigned throughout our society to minimize the risk of breakdowns 
within the individual systems. In regard to the world-system as a whole, 
we noted above that it grows ever more complex and more tightly coupled. 
To reverse this process and “decouple” the world-system would require the 
design, implementation, and enforcement of an elaborate plan that would 
regulate in detail the political and economic development of the entire 
world. For reasons explained at length in Chapter One of this book, no 
such plan will ever be carried out successfully. 

Second , prior to the arrival of “world peace” and for the sake of their 
own survival and propagation, the self-prop subsystems of a given global 
self-prop system (their supersystem) will have put aside, or at least moder¬ 
ated, their mutual conflicts in order to present a united front against any 
immediate external threats or challenges to the supersystem (which are 
also threats or challenges to themselves). In fact, the supersystem would 
never have been successful enough to become a global self-prop system if 
competition among its most powerful self-prop subsystems had not been 

But once a global self-prop system has eliminated its competitors, or 
has entered into an agreement that frees it from dangerous competition from 
other global self-prop systems, there will no longer be any immediate exter¬ 
nal threat to induce unity or a moderation of conflict among the self-prop 
subsystems of the global self-prop system. In view of Proposition 2—which 
tells us that self-prop systems will compete with little regard for long-term 
consequences—unrestrained and therefore destructive competition will 
break out among the most powerful self-prop subsystems of the global 
self-prop system in question. 14 

Benjamin Franklin pointed out that “the great affairs of the world, the 
wars, revolutions, etc. are carried on and effected by parties.” Each of the 
“parties,” according to Franklin, is pursuing its own collective advantage, 
but “as soon as a party has gained its general point”—and therefore, presum¬ 
ably, no longer faces immediate conflict with an external adversary—“each 
member becomes intent upon his particular interest, which, thwarting 
others, breaks that party into divisions and occasions... confusion.” 15 

History does generally confirm that when large human groups are 
not held together by any immediate external challenge, they tend strongly 

Chapter Two: Part II 


to break up into factions that compete against one another with little regard 
for long-term consequences. 16 What we are arguing here is that this does not 
apply only to human groups, but expresses a tendency of self-propagating 
systems in general as they develop under the influence of natural selection. 
Thus, the tendency is independent of any flaws of character peculiar to 
human beings, and the tendency will persist even if humans are “cured” 
of their purported defects or (as many technophiles envision) are replaced 
by intelligent machines. 

Third , let’s nevertheless assume that the most powerful self-prop 
subsystems of the global self-prop systems will not begin to compete 
destructively when the external challenges to their supersystems have been 
removed. There yet remains another reason why the “world peace” that 
we’ve postulated will be unstable. 

By Proposition 1, within the “peaceful” world-system new self-prop 
systems will arise that, under the influence of natural selection, will evolve 
increasingly subtle and sophisticated ways of evading recognition—or, 
once they are recognized, evading suppression—by the dominant global 
self-prop systems. By the same process that led to the evolution of global 
self-prop systems in the first place, new self-prop systems of greater and 
greater power will develop until some are powerful enough to challenge 
the existing global self-prop systems, whereupon destructive competition 
on a global scale will resume. 

For the sake of clarity we have described the process in simplified 
form, as if a world-system relatively free of dangerous competition would 
first be established and afterward would be undone by new self-prop sys¬ 
tems that would arise. But it’s more likely that new self-prop systems will 
be arising all along to challenge the existing global self-prop systems, and 
will prevent the hypothesized “world peace” from ever being consolidated 
in the first place. In fact, we can see this happening before our eyes. 17 The 
most crudely obvious of the (relatively) new self-prop systems are those that 
challenge law and order head on, such as terrorist networks and hackers’ 
groups, 18 as well as frankly criminal enterprises 19 that make no pretense of 
idealistic motives. Drug cartels have disrupted the normal course of polit¬ 
ical life in Mexico; 20 terrorists did the same in the United States with the 
attack of September 11,2001, and they are continuing to do so, much more 
drastically, in countries like Iraq. Self-prop systems of the purely lawless 
type even have the potential to take control of important nations, as drug 
cartels arguably have come close to doing in Kenya. 21 Political “machines” 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

are not necessarily to be classified as criminal enterprises, but they ordi¬ 
narily are more or less corrupt and tainted with illegal activity, 22 and they 
do challenge, or even take over, the “legitimate” structure of government. 

Probably more significant for the present and the near future are 
emerging self-prop systems that use entirely legal methods, or at least keep 
their use of illegal methods to the minimum necessary for their purposes, 
and justify those methods with a claim, not totally outrageous, that their 
actions are necessary for the fulfillment of some widely accepted ideal 
such as “democracy,” “social justice,” “prosperity,” “morality,” or religious 
principles. In Israel, the ultra-orthodox sect—strictly legal—has become 
surprisingly powerful and seriously threatens to subvert the values and 
objectives of the hitherto secular state. 23 The great corporations, as we 
know them today, are a relatively recent (and perfectly legal) development; 
in the U.S. they date only from the latter half of the 19th century. 24 New 
corporations are continually being formed, and some grow powerful enough 
to challenge the older enterprises. During the last several decades many 
corporations have become international, and their power has begun to rival 
that of nation-states. 25 

A subordinate system that a government creates for its own purposes 
can turn into a self-prop system in its own right, and may even become 
dominant over the government. Thus, bureaucracies commonly are con¬ 
cerned more with their own power and security than with the fulfillment 
of their public responsibilities. 26 “[Ejvery... bureaucracy develops a tendency 
to preserve itself, to fatten itself parasitically. It also develops a tendency 
to become a power in and of itself, autonomous, over which governments 
lose all real control.” 27 A nation’s military establishment often acquires a 
considerable degree of autonomy and then supplants the government as the 
dominant political force in the country. Nowadays the undisguised military 
coup seems less popular than it once was, and politically sophisticated 
generals prefer to exercise their power behind the scenes while allowing a 
facade of civilian government to function. When the generals find it nec¬ 
essary to intervene overtly they claim to be acting in favor of “democracy” 
or some such ideal. This type of military dominance can be seen today in 
Pakistan and Egypt. 28 

Two competing, entirely legal self-prop systems that have arisen in 
the U.S. during the last few decades are the politically correct left and the 
dogmatic right (not to be confused with the liberals and conservatives of 
earlier times in America). This book is not the place to speculate about the 

Chapter Two: Part II 


outcome of the struggle between these two forces; suffice it to say that in 
the long run their bitter conflict may do more to prevent the establishment 
of a lastingly peaceful world order than all the bombs of A1 Qaeda and all 
the murders of the Mexican drug gangs. 

People who find it difficult to face harsh realities will hope for a way 
to design and construct a world-system in which the processes that lead to 
destructive competition will not occur. But in Chapter One we’ve explained 
why no such project can ever be successfully carried out in practice. It may be 
objected that a mammal (or other complex biological organism) is a self-prop 
system that is a composite of millions of other self-prop systems, namely, 
the cells of its own body. Yet (unless and until the animal gets cancer) no 
destructive competition arises among cells or groups of cells within the 
animal’s body. Instead, all the cells loyally serve the interests of the animal 
as a whole. Moreover, no external threat to the animal is necessary to keep 
the cells faithful to their duty. There is (it may be argued) no reason why the 
world-system could not be as well organized as the body of a mammal, so 
that no destructive competition would arise among its self-prop subsystems. 

But the body of a mammal is a product of hundreds of millions of 
years of evolution through natural selection. This means that it has been 
created through a process of trial and error involving many millions of 
successive trials. If we suppose the duration of a generation to be a period 
of time A, those members of the first generation that contributed to the 
second generation by producing offspring were only those that passed the 
test of selection over time A. Those lineages 29 that survived to the third 
generation were only those that passed the test of selection over time 2A. 
Those lineages that survived to the fourth generation were only those that 
passed the test of selection over time 3A. And so forth. Those lineages 
that survived to the Nth generation were only those that passed the test of 
selection over the time-interval (N-l)A as well as the test of selection over 
every shorter time-interval. Though the foregoing explanation is grossly 
simplified, it shows that in order to have survived up to the present, a lin¬ 
eage of organisms has to have passed the test of selection many millions 
of times and over all time-intervals, short, medium, and long. To put it 
another way, the lineage has had to pass through a series of many millions 
of filters, each of which has allowed the passage only of those lineages 
that were “fittest” (in the Darwinian sense) to survive over time-intervals 
of widely varying length. It is only through this process that the body of a 
mammal has evolved, with its incredibly subtle and complex mechanisms 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

that promote the survival of the animal’s lineage at short, medium, and long 
term. These mechanisms include those that prevent destructive competition 
among cells or groups of cells within the animal’s body. 

Also highly important is the large number of individuals in each 
generation of a biological organism. A species that has had a close brush 
with extinction may at some point have been reduced to a few thousand 
individuals, but any mammalian species, through almost all of its evolu¬ 
tionary history since its first appearance as a multi-celled organism, has had 
millions of individuals in each generation from among which the “fittest” 
have been selected. 

But once self-propagating systems have attained global scale, two 
crucial differences emerge. The first difference is in the number of indi¬ 
viduals from among which the “fittest” are selected. Self-prop systems 
sufficiently big and powerful to be plausible contenders for global domi¬ 
nance will probably number in the dozens, or possibly in the hundreds; they 
certainly will not number in the millions. With so few individuals from 
among which to select the “fittest,” it seems safe to say that the process of 
natural selection will be inef ficient in promoting the fitness for survival of 
the dominant global self-prop systems. 30 It should also be noted that among 
biological organisms, species that consist of a relatively small number of 
large individuals are more vulnerable to extinction than species that con¬ 
sist of a large number of small individuals. 31 Though the analogy between 
biological organisms and self-propagating systems of human beings is far 
from perfect, still the prospect for viability of a world-system based on the 
dominance of a few global self-prop systems does not look encouraging. 

The second difference is that in the absence of rapid, worldwide 
transportation and communication, the breakdown or the destructive action 
of a small-scale self-prop system has only local repercussions. Outside the 
limited zone where such a self-prop system has been active there will be 
other self-prop systems among which the process of evolution through 
natural selection will continue. But where rapid, worldwide transportation 
and communication have led to the emergence of global self-prop systems, 
the breakdown or the destructive action of any one such system can shake 
the whole world-system. Consequently, in the process of trial and error that 
is evolution through natural selection, it is highly probable that after only 
a relatively small number of “trials” resulting in “errors,” the world-system 
will break down or will be so severely disrupted that none of the world’s 

Chapter Two: Part II 


larger or more complex self-prop systems will be able to survive. Thus, 
for such self-prop systems, the trial-and-error process comes to an end; 
evolution through natural selection cannot continue long enough to create 
global self-prop systems possessing the subtle and sophisticated mechanisms 
that prevent destructive internal competition within complex biological 

Meanwhile, fierce competition among global self-prop systems will 
have led to such drastic and rapid alterations in the Earth’s climate, the 
composition of its atmosphere, the chemistry of its oceans, and so forth, 
that the effect on the biosphere will be devastating. In Part IV of the present 
chapter we will carry this line of inquiry further: We will argue that if the 
development of the technological world-system is allowed to proceed to 
its logical conclusion, then in all probability the Earth will be left a dead 
planet—a planet on which nothing will remain alive except, maybe, some 
of the simplest organisms—certain bacteria, algae, etc.—that are capable 
of surviving under extreme conditions. 

* * 


The theory we’ve outlined here provides a plausible explanation for 
the so-called Fermi Paradox. It is believed that there should be numerous 
planets on which technologically advanced civilizations have evolved, and 
which are not so remote from us that we could not by this time have detected 
their radio transmissions. The Fermi Paradox consists in the fact that our 
astronomers have never yet been able to detect any radio signals that seem 
to have originated from an intelligent extraterrestrial source. 32 

According to Ray Kurzweil, one common explanation of the Fermi 
Paradox is “that a civilization may obliterate itself once it reaches radio 
capability.” Kurzweil continues: “This explanation might be acceptable if 
we were talking about only a few such civilizations, but [if such civilizations 
have been numerous], it is not credible to believe that every one of them 
destroyed itself.” 33 Kurzweil would be right if the self-destruction of a civ¬ 
ilization were merely a matter of chance. But there is nothing implausible 
about the foregoing explanation of the Fermi Paradox if there is a process 
common to all technologically advanced civilizations that consistently leads 
them to self-destruction. Here we’ve been arguing that there is such a 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

III. Our discussion of self-propagating systems merely describes in 
general and abstract terms what we see going on all around us in concrete 
form: Organizations, movements, ideologies are locked in an unremitting 
struggle for power. Those that fail to compete successfully are eliminated 
or subjugated. 34 The struggle is almost exclusively for power in the short 
term; 35 the competitors show scant concern even for their own long-term 
survival, 36 let alone for the welfare of the human race or of the biosphere. 
That’s why nuclear weapons have not been banned, emissions of carbon 
dioxide have not been reduced to a safe level, the Earth’s resources are being 
exploited at an utterly reckless rate, and no limitation has been placed on 
the development of powerful but dangerous technologies. 

The purpose of describing the process in general and abstract terms, 
as we’ve done here, is to show that what is happening to our world is not 
accidental; it is not the result of some chance conjunction of historical cir¬ 
cumstances or of some flaw of character peculiar to human beings. Given 
the nature of self-propagating systems in general, the destructive process 
that we see today is made inevitable by a combination of two factors: the 
colossal power of modern technology and the availability of rapid trans¬ 
portation and communication between any two parts of the world. 

Recognition of this may help us to avoid wasting time on naive efforts 
to solve our current problems. For example, on efforts to teach people to 
conserve energy and resources. Such efforts accomplish nothing whatever. 

It seems amazing that those who advocate energy conservation haven’t 
noticed what happens: As soon as some energy is freed up by conservation, 
the technological world-system gobbles itup and demands more. No matter 
how much energy is provided, the system always expands rapidly until it 
is using all available energy, and then it demands still more. The same is 
true of other resources. The technological world-system infallibly expands 
until it reaches a limit imposed by an insufficiency of resources, and then 
it tries to push beyond that limit regardless of consequences. 

This is explained by the theory of self-propagating systems: Those 
organizations (or other self-prop systems) that least allow respect for the 
environment to interfere with their pursuit of power here and now, tend 
to acquire more power than those that limit their pursuit of power from 
concern about what will happen to our environment fifty years from now, or 
even ten years. (Proposition 2.) Thus, through a process of natural selection, 
the world comes to be dominated by organizations that make maximum 

Chapter Two: Part III 


possible use of all available resources to augment their own power without 
regard to long-term consequences. 

Environmental do-gooders may answer that if the public has been per¬ 
suaded to take environmental concerns seriously it will be disadvantageous 
in terms of natural selection for an organization to abuse the environment, 
because citizens can offer resistance to environmentally reckless organiza¬ 
tions. For example, people might refuse to buy products manufactured by 
companies that are environmentally destructive. However, human behavior 
and human attitudes can be manipulated. Environmental damage can be 
shielded, up to a point, from public scrutiny; with the help of public-rela¬ 
tions firms, a corporation can persuade people that it is environmentally 
responsible; advertising and marketing techniques can give people such an 
itch to possess a corporation’s products that few individuals will refuse to 
buy them from concern for the environment; computer games, electronic 
social networking, and other mechanisms of escape keep people absorbed in 
hedonistic pursuits so that they don’t have time for environmental worries. 
More importantly, people are made to see themselves as utterly dependent 
on the products and services provided by the corporations. Because people 
have to earn money to buy the products and services on which they are 
dependent, they need jobs. Economic growth is necessary for the creation of 
jobs, therefore people accept environmental damage when it is portrayed as 
a price that must be paid for economic growth. Nationalism too is brought 
into play both by corporations and by governments. Citizens are made to 
feel that outside forces are threatening: “The Chinese will get ahead of 
us if we don’t increase our rate of economic growth. A1 Qaeda will blow 
us up if we don’t improve our technology and our weaponry fast enough.” 

These are some of the tools that organizations use to counter envi¬ 
ronmentalists’ efforts to arouse public concern; similar tools can help to 
blunt other forms of resistance to the organizations’ pursuit of power. The 
organizations that are most successful in blunting public resistance to their 
pursuit of power tend to increase their power more rapidly than organiza¬ 
tions that are less successful in blunting public resistance. Thus, through a 
process of natural selection, there evolve organizations that possess more 
and more sophisticated and effective means of blunting public resistance 
to their power-seeking activities, whatever the degree of environmental 
damage involved. Because such organizations have great wealth at their 
disposal, environmentalists do not have the resources to compete with them 
in the propaganda war. 37 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

This is the reason, or an important part of the reason, 38 why attempts 
to teach people to be environmentally responsible have done so little to slow 
the destruction of our environment. And again—note well—the process 
we’ve described is not contingent on any accidental set of circumstances or 
on any defect in human character. Given the availability of advanced tech¬ 
nology, the process inevitably accompanies the action of natural selection 
upon self-propagating systems. 

IV. People who know something about the biological past of 
the Earth and see what the technological system is doing to our planet 
speak of a “sixth mass extinction,” which they think is now in progress. 
Apparently they envision something like the extinction event at the end 
of the Cretaceous period, when the dinosaurs died out: They assume that 
many kinds of complex organisms will survive, and the species that become 
extinct will be replaced by complex organisms of a different kind, just as the 
dinosaurs were replaced by mammals. 39 Here we argue that this (relatively) 
comforting assumption is unjustified, because the extinction event that has 
now begun is of a fundamentally different kind than all of the previous 
mass extinctions that have occurred on this planet. 

So far as is known, each previous mass extinction has resulted from 
the arrival of some one major disruptive factor, or at most perhaps two or 
three such factors. 40 Thus, it is widely believed that the dinosaurs were 
wiped out by the impact of an asteroid that kicked up colossal clouds of dust. 
These obstructed the light of the Sun, cooling the planet and interfering 
with photosynthesis. 41 Presumably, mammals were better able to survive 
under these conditions than the dinosaurs were. There are paleontologists 
who argue that some species of dinosaurs survived for as long as a million 
years after the impact of the asteroid, hence, that the asteroid alone was 
not enough to account for all the extinctions that occurred at the end of 
the Cretaceous. The dinosaurs, they maintain, must have been finished 
off by some other factor—perhaps a prolonged period of unusual volcanic 
activity that continued to darken the atmosphere. 42 In any case, no one 
claims that more than a very few such factors—all of them simple, blind 
forces—were involved in the extinction of the dinosaurs or in other, pre¬ 
vious mass extinctions. 

In contrast to these earlier events, the extinction event that is now 
under way is not the work of a single blind force or even of two or three or 
ten such forces. Instead, it is the work of a multiplicity of intelligent, living 

Chapter Two: Part IV 


forces. These are human organizations, self-prop systems that assiduously 
pursue their own short-term advantage without scruple and without concern 
for long-term consequences. In doing so they leave no stone unturned, no 
possibility untested, no avenue unexplored in their unremitting drive for 

This can be compared to what happens in biology: In the course of 
evolution organisms develop means of exploiting every opportunity, utiliz¬ 
ing every resource, and invading every corner where life is possible at all. 
Scientists have been surprised to discover living organisms surviving, and 
in some cases even thriving, in locations where there seemingly is nothing 
on which they could support themselves. There are communities of bac¬ 
teria, worms, molluscs, and crustaceans that flourish near hydrothermal 
vents so deep in the ocean that no sunlight whatever can reach them and 
the downward drift of nutrients from the surface is entirely inadequate. 
Some of these creatures actually use hydrogen sulfide—to most organisms 
a deadly poison—as a source of energy. 43 Elsewhere there are bacteria that 
live a hundred feet beneath the seafloor in an environment almost com¬ 
pletely devoid of nutrients. 44 Other bacteria nourish themselves on nothing 
more than “bare rock and water” at depths of up to 1.7 miles beneath the 
surface of the continents. 45 Everyone knows that there are organisms called 
parasites that find a home within other organisms, but many people may be 
surprised to learn that there are parasites that live in or on other parasites; 
in fact, there are parasites of parasites of parasites of parasites. 46 (One recalls 
the lines of Samuel Butler: “All great fleas have little fleas to bite 'em, and 
these have smaller still, and so ad infinitum.” 47 ) 

Needless to say, there do exist limits to the conditions under which 
life can survive. E.g., it has been questioned whether there can ever be a 
“general mechanism by which any conventional protein could be made stable 
and functional at temperatures above 100° C.” 48 Yet some organisms do 
live at temperatures as high as 113° C., though none is known to survive 
and reproduce at a higher temperature. 49 

Like biological organisms, the world’s leading human self-prop sys¬ 
tems exploit every opportunity, utilize every resource, and invade every 
corner where they can find anything that will be of use to them in their 
endless search for power. And as technology advances, more and more of 
what formerly seemed useless turns out to be useful after all, so that more 
and more resources are extracted, more and more corners are invaded, and 
more and more destructive consequences follow. For example: 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

When humans made no use of metals other than iron meteorites, or 
nuggets of gold or copper that might be found by chance, the only mining 
activity consisted in the digging-out of rocks such as flint or obsidian that 
were used to make tools. But once people learned to utilize metals on a 
large scale the destructive effects of mining became evident. Certainly by 
the 16th century, and probably much earlier, it was clearly recognized that 
mining poisoned streams and rivers and ruined the countryside where it 
occurred. 50 But in those days mining affected only a few districts where 
there were known deposits of relatively high-grade ore, and people who 
lived elsewhere probably never gave a thought to the damage caused by the 
extraction of metals. In recent times, however, more sophisticated means 
of detecting deposits of valuable minerals have been devised, 51 as well as 
methods for utilizing low-grade ores that formerly were left undisturbed 
because the extraction of metal from them was too difficult to be profit¬ 
able. 52 As a result of these developments mining activities have continually 
invaded new areas, and severe environmental damage has followed. 53 It 
is said that the water flowing out of many old mining sites is so heavily 
contaminated that it will have to be treated “forever” to remove the toxic 
metals. 54 Of course, it won’t be treated forever, and when the treatment 
stops, rivers will be irremediably poisoned. 

Mining activities are invading still other areas because new uses have 
been found for elements that several decades ago had few if any practical 
applications. Most of the “rare earth” elements were of limited utility before 
the middle of the 20th century, but they are now considered indispensable 
for many purposes. 55 The rare earth neodymium, for example, is needed 
in large quantities for the lightweight permanent magnets used in wind 
turbines. 56 Unfortunately, most deposits of rare earths contain radioactive 
thorium, hence the mining of these metals generates radioactive waste. 57 

In quantitative terms, at least, uranium was of little importance 
prior to the development of atomic weapons and nuclear power-plants; it 
is now mined on a large scale. Relatively small amounts of arsenic were 
no doubt sufficient for medical applications and for the manufacture of rat 
poison and artists’ pigments, but today the element is used in large quan¬ 
tities, e.g., to harden lead alloys and as a wood preservative. Fence posts 
treated with cupric arsenate are extremely common in the western United 
States 58 —there must be many millions of them. These posts last far longer 
than untreated ones, but they are not indestructible. They will eventually 
disintegrate, and when they do the arsenic they contain will spread through 

Chapter Two: Part IV 


our environment. Large-scale mining and utilization of other toxic and/ 
or carcinogenic elements such as mercury, lead, and cadmium are likewise 
spreading them everywhere. Cleanup efforts are so puny in relation to the 
magnitude of the problem that they are little better than a joke. 

The extraction and processing of other resources have followed sim¬ 
ilar trajectories. Petroleum, long known as a substance that seeped from 
the ground in places, originally had few uses. But during the 19th century 
it was discovered that kerosene, distilled from petroleum, could be burned 
for illumination in lamps, and for that purpose was superior to whale oil. 
As a result of this discovery the first “oil well” was drilled in Pennsylvania 
in 1859, and drilling elsewhere soon followed. The petroleum industry at 
that time was based mainly on kerosene; there was little demand for other 
petroleum products, such as natural gas and gasoline. But natural gas later 
came to be used on a large scale for heating, cooking, and illumination, 
and after the advent of the gasoline-powered automobile around the begin¬ 
ning of the 20th century the petroleum industry won a position of central 
importance in the economy of the industrialized world. From that time 
on, new uses for petroleum products have continually been discovered. In 
addition, processes have been developed for transforming hydrocarbons 
so that formerly useless petroleum distillates can be turned into useful 
products, and oil deposits that, because of their undesirable characteristics 
(e.g., high sulfur content), might not have been worth extracting, can now 
be made valuable. 59 

Oil companies have come up with ever more sophisticated meth¬ 
ods for locating petroleum deposits, and this is one of the reasons why 
estimates of “known oil reserves” keep increasing. But the estimates also 
increase because previously inaccessible petroleum is made accessible by 
new technologies that make it profitable to extract petroleum (including 
natural gas) from ever more difficult sources. Drillers penetrate deeper 
and deeper into the Earth’s crust, and are even able to drill horizontally; 
“fracking” (hydraulic fracturing) releases new reserves of oil, and especially 
gas, from shale rock; techniques are under development for utilizing the vast 
deposits of methane hydrate found on the ocean floor. 60 As a result of all 
these technical advances more and more of the Earth’s surface is raped by 
the petroleum industry, and for humans who get in the way it’s just tough 
luck. Fracking, for example, is not a benign technique; 61 at least one woman 
who was affected by it felt that her life had been ruined. 62 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Anyone who thinks the technological world-system is ever going 
to stop burning fossil fuels (while any are left) is dreaming. 63 But whether 
or not the system ever renounces such fuels, other destructive sources of 
energy will be utilized. Nuclear power-plants generate radioactive waste; 
no provably safe way of disposing of such waste has yet been indentified, 64 
and the world’s leading self-prop systems aren’t even trying very hard to 
find a permanent home for the accumulating radioactive garbage. 65 Of 
course, the self-prop systems need energy for the maintenance of their 
power here and now, whereas radioactive waste represents only a danger 
for the future and, as we’ve emphasized, natural selection favors self-prop 
systems that compete for power in the present with little regard for long¬ 
term consequences. So nuclear power-plants continue to be built, while the 
problem of dealing with their burned-out fuel is largely neglected. In fact, 
the problem of nuclear waste is on track to become totally unmanageable 
because, instead of a few of the big, old-style reactors, numerous small 
ones (“mini-nukes”) will soon be built, 66 so that every little town can have 
its own nuclear power-plant. 67 With the big, old-style reactors at least the 
radioactive wastes have been concentrated at a relatively small number of 
sites, but with numerous mini-nukes scattered over the world radioactive 
wastes will be everywhere. One would have to be extraordinarily naive, 
or else gifted with a remarkable capacity for self-deception, to believe that 
each little two-bit burg is going to handle its nuclear waste responsibly. In 
practice, much of the radioactive material will escape into the environment. 

“Green” energy sources aren’t going to wean the system from its 
dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power. But even if they did, green 
energy sources don’t look so green when one examines them closely. “There’s 
no free lunch when it comes to meeting our energy needs,” says the director 
of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s land program. “To get energy, 
we need to do things that will have impacts.” 68 

The construction of wind farms entails the creation of radioactive 
waste because, as noted earlier, the lightweight permanent magnets in wind 
turbines require the rare-earth element neodymium. In addition, wind 
farms kill numerous birds, which fly into the “propellers” of the turbines. 69 
Large numbers of new wind-farms are planned in the U.S., China, and 
presumably other countries as well, 70 and a likely result will be the exter¬ 
mination of many species of birds. “Shawn Smallwood, a Davis, Calif, 
ecologist and researcher [said:] ‘Just the sheer numbers of turbines we’re 
talking about—we’re going to be killing so many raptors until there are no 

Chapter Two: Part IV 


more raptors in my opinion.’” 71 Raptors play an important role in controlling 
rodent populations, so when the raptors are gone more pesticides will have 
to be used to kill rodents. 

The United States has been developing a military robot called the 
EATR that relies on green energy inasmuch as it “fuels itself by eating 
whatever biomass”—a renewable resource—“it finds around it.” 72 But you 
can imagine the devastation that would result from a war fought by armies of 
robots that gobble for fuel whatever biomass they find. And if the biomass- 
gobbling technology is ever adapted to civilian use, it will endanger every 
living thing that can be used to satisfy the system’s always ravenous appetite 
for energy. 

But solar energy is harmless, right? Well, not quite, for solar panels 
compete with biological organisms for the light of the Sun. Let’s recall what 
we pointed out earlier, that the technological system invariably expands 
until it is using all available energy, and then it demands more. If fossil 
fuels and nuclear power aren’t going to satisfy the system’s ever-growing 
demand for energy, 73 then solar panels will be placed wherever sunlight 
can be collected. This means, inter alia, that solar panels will progressively 
invade the habitats of living things, depriving them of sunlight and there¬ 
fore killing most of them. This is not speculation—the process has already 
begun. There are plans “to create huge solar energy plants in the deserts 
of California, Arizona, Nevada and elsewhere in the West. ... The open 
deserts are prime habitat for threatened plants and animals... .” 74 According 
to Janine Blaeloch, executive director of the Western Lands Project, “These 
[solar energy] plants will introduce a huge amount of damage to our public 
land and habitat.” 75 And remember, the system’s appetite for energy is insa¬ 
tiable: In all probability, the development of solar energy will expand until 
there is no habitat left for living organisms other than the domesticated 
crops that the system grows to satisfy its own needs. 

But there is much more to be taken into account. Notwithstanding 
the folly of Ray Kurzweil’s fantasies of a future technological utopia, he is 
absolutely right about some things. He quite correctly points out that in 
thinking about the future most people make two errors: (i) They “consider 
the transformations that will result from a single trend [or from several 
specified trends that are already evident] in today’s world as if nothing else 
will change.” 76 And (ii) they “intuitively assume that the current rate of 
progress will continue for future periods,” neglecting the unending accel¬ 
eration of technological development. 77 In order to avoid falling into these 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

errors ourselves, we have to remember that the assaults on the terrestrial 
environment that are known and observable now will not in future be the 
only ones. Just as the use of petroleum distillates in internal combustion 
engines was undreamed of before 1860 at the earliest, 78 just as the use of 
uranium as fuel was undreamed of before the discovery of nuclear fission 
in 1938-39, 79 just as most uses of the rare earths were undreamed of until 
recent decades, so there will be future uses of resources, future ways of 
exploiting the environment, future corners for the technological system to 
invade that at present are still undreamed of. In attempting to estimate the 
coming damage to our environment, we can’t just project into the future 
the effects of currently known causes of environmental harm; we have to 
assume that new causes of environmental harm, which no one today can 
even imagine, will emerge in the future. Moreover, we have to remember 
that the growth of technology, and with it the exacerbation of the harm 
that technology does to our environment, will accelerate ever more rapidly 
over the coming decades. All this being taken into consideration we have 
to conclude that, in all probability, little or nothing on our planet will much 
longer remain free of gross disruption by the technological system. 

Most people take our atmosphere for granted, as if Providence had 
decreed once and for all that air should consist of 78% nitrogen, 21% 
oxygen, and 1% other gasses. In reality our atmosphere in its present form 
was created, and is still maintained, through the action of living things. 80 
Originally the atmosphere contained far more carbon dioxide than it does 
today, 81 and we may wonder why the greenhouse effect didn’t make the 
Earth too hot for life ever to begin. The answer, presumably, is that the 
Sun at that time radiated much less energy than it does now. 82 In any case, 
it was the biosphere that took the excess carbon dioxide out of the air: 

As primitive bacteria and cyanobacteria had, through photosynthesis 
or related life processes, captured atmospheric carbon, depositing it 
on the seafloor, carbon was removed from the atmosphere. ... 

Cyanobacteria also were the first organisms to utilize water 
as a source of electrons and hydrogen in the photosynthetic process. 
Free oxygen was released as a result of this reaction and began to 
accumulate in the atmosphere, allowing oxygen-dependent life-forms 
to evolve. 83 

Chapter Two: Part IV 


Biological processes also affect the amount of methane in the atmo¬ 
sphere, 84 and let’s remember that methane has a far more powerful effect in 
promoting global warming than carbon dioxide does. 85 On the other hand, 
some experts claim that 3.7 billion years ago certain microbes generated 
large quantities of methane that, instead of warming the planet, cooled it 
by creating clouds that reflected sunlight back into space. Supposedly, 
the Earth narrowly escaped becoming too cold for the survival of life. 86 
However that may be, it’s evident that a really radical disruption of the 
biosphere could cause an atmospheric disaster: a lack of oxygen, a con¬ 
centration of toxic gasses such as methane or ammonia, a deficiency or an 
excess of carbon dioxide that would make our planet too cold or too hot 
to support life. 

At present, the most imminent danger seems to be the possible over¬ 
heating of the Earth through an excess in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide 
and perhaps methane. 87 Just how hot might the Earth get if humans con¬ 
tinue to burn fossil fuels? About 56 million years ago there was a massive 
increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, estimated to 
be roughly equal to the amount that would be added now if humans burned 
off “all the Earth’s reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas.” 88 The result was 
a radical change in the terrestrial environment, including a 9° F (5° C) 
rise in average temperatures 89 and the flooding of substantial parts of the 
continents. 90 There weren’t any mass extinctions, 91 but this should give us 
no sense of security about the future of the biosphere, because we can’t 
assume that the effect of adding a given amount of carbon dioxide to the 
atmosphere today will be the same as what it was 56 million years ago. 92 

The carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere 56 million years ago 
was probably added relatively slowly, over thousands of years. 93 If humans 
now burn off all petroleum reserves they undoubtedly will do so in a small 
fraction of that time, hence living organisms will have little opportunity 
to adapt to their changed environment. Moreover, the presumed equiv¬ 
alence of the amount of carbon dioxide being released today with what 
was released 56 million years ago is based on an estimate of the Earth’s 
fossil-fuel reserves that almost certainly is far too low, for new and unex¬ 
pected deposits of oil and natural gas are continually being discovered and 
estimates of the reserves are correspondingly raised. Account must also be 
taken of other ways in which humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. 
For example, vast quantities of limestone are “burned” to make lime and 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Portland cement: CaC0 3 —» CaO + C0 2 . It’s not clear how much of the 
carbon dioxide (C0 2 ) is eventually recaptured by the lime (CaO) or how 
long that takes. 

But even if the Earth warms no more than it did 56 million years 
ago, the consequences will be unacceptable to the powerful classes in our 
society. The world’s dominant self-prop systems will therefore resort to 
“geo-engineering,” that is, to a system of artificial manipulation of the 
atmosphere designed to keep temperatures within acceptable limits. 94 The 
implementation of geo-engineering will entail immediate, desperate risks, 95 
and even if no immediate disaster ensues the eventual consequences very 
likely will be catastrophic. 96 

All this relates merely to the greenhouse effect. To it we have to 
add numerous other factors that tend to disrupt the biosphere. As we’ve 
seen, living organisms will be progressively robbed of sunlight by contin¬ 
ual expansion of the system’s solar-energy installations. There will be no 
limit to the contamination of our environment with radioactive waste, with 
toxic elements such as lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium, 97 and with a 
variety of poisonous chemical compounds. 98 There will be oil spills from 
time to time, since the safety measures taken by the petroleum industry 
are never quite sufficient, 99 and in some parts of the world the industry 
doesn’t even make any serious effort to prevent spills. 100 The phasing-out 
of chlorofluorocarbons is supposed to allow the ozone layer, which protects 
living organisms from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, to recover from the 
damage it has already suffered, but the recovery (if indeed it occurs) will 
take decades, 101 and meanwhile the damage that ultraviolet radiation does 
to the biosphere has to be taken into account. 

The foregoing effects of the technological system’s activities have long 
been recognized as harmful, but there can be little doubt that many effects 
not recognized as harmful today will turn out to be harmful tomorrow, 
for this has often happened in the past. 102 “It has been estimated that the 
modern sediment loads of the rivers draining into the Atlantic Ocean may 
be four to five times greater than the prehistoric rates because of the effects 
of human activity.” 103 How, in the long run, will this affect life in the ocean? 
Does anyone know? Genes from genetically engineered organisms can, and 
almost certainly will, be passed to wild plants or animals. 104 What will be 
the ultimate consequences for the biosphere of this “genetic pollution?” No 
one knows. Even if these and other effects turn out to be harmless when 
considered separately and individually, all of the “harmless” effects of the 

Chapter Two: Part IV 


system’s activities taken together will surely bring about major alterations 
in the biosphere. 

Here we’ve done no more than scratch the surface. A full assessment 
of the ways in which the functioning of the technological world-system 
currently threatens to disrupt the biosphere would require a vast amount of 
research, and the results would fill several volumes. W ill all of these factors 
add up to a disruption of the biosphere sufficient to prevent it from perform¬ 
ing its function in maintaining the present composition of our atmosphere? 
It’s anybody’s guess. But that’s not all: Let’s not forget that the technological 
system is still in its infancy in comparison with what it will become over 
the next several decades. At a rapidly accelerating pace and in ways that no 
one has yet imagined, we can expect the world’s leading self-prop systems 
to find more and more opportunities to exploit, more and more resources 
to extract, more and more corners to invade, until little or nothing on this 
planet is left free of technological intervention—intervention that will be 
carried out in a mad quest for immediate increments of power and without 
regard to long-term consequences. In the opinion of this writer, there is a 
strong probability that if the biosphere is not destroyed outright it will at 
least be rendered incapable of maintaining any reasonable approximation 
to the present composition of our atmosphere, without which none of the 
more complex forms of life on this planet will be able to survive. 

One plausible outcome might be that the Earth will end up like the 
planet Venus: 

It has been suggested that the climate of the Earth could be ulti¬ 
mately unstable. Addition of gasses capable of trapping heat could 
accelerate the release of H 2 0 and raise the temperature to a point 
where the oceans would evaporate... . Some believe that such changes 
may have occurred on Venus... . Venus is a striking example of the 
importance of the greenhouse effect. Its atmosphere contains a large 
concentration of C0 2 [= carbon dioxide]... . [T]he Venusian surface 
temperature is much hotter than the Earth’s—about 780° K [507° C 
or 944° F]—in spite of the fact that Venus absorbs less energy from 
the Sun because of its ubiquitous cloud cover... .” 105 

To sum up the thesis of this part of the present chapter: If the develop¬ 
ment of the technological world-system is allowed to proceed to its logical 
conclusion, it will in all probability leave the Earth uninhabitable for all of 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

the more complex forms of life as we know them today. This admittedly 
remains unproven; it represents the author’s personal opinion. But the facts 
and arguments offered here are enough at least to show that the opinion 
can be entertained as a plausible hypothesis, and that it would be rash to 
assume without further proof that the denouement we are facing will be 
no worse than earlier extinction events in the Earth’s history. 

What can be taken as a near certainty is that —if the development of 
the technological system is allowed to proceed to its logical conclusion—the 
outcome for the biosphere will be thoroughly devastating; if it isn’t worse 
than the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous when the dinosaurs 
disappeared, it can’t be much better; if any humans are left alive, they will 
be very few; and the technological system itself will be dead. 

But note the reservation in the foregoing statement: “if the devel¬ 
opment of the technological system is allowed to proceed to its logical 
conclusion,” The author has occasionally been asked: “If the system is going 
to destroy itself anyway, then why bother to overthrow it?” The answer, 
of course, is that if the technological system were eliminated now a great 
deal could still be saved. The longer the system is allowed to continue its 
development, the worse will be the outcome for the biosphere and for the 
human race, and the greater will be the risk that the Earth will be left a 
dead planet. 106 

V. The techies wet-dreams. There is a current of thought that appears 
to be carrying many technophiles out of the realm of science and into 
that of science fiction. 107 For convenience, let’s refer to those who ride 
this current as “the techies.” The current runs through several channels; 
not all techies think alike. What they have in common is that they take 
highly speculative ideas about the future of technology as near certainties, 
and on that basis predict the arrival within the next few decades of a kind 
of technological utopia. Some of the techies’ fantasies are astonishingly 
grandiose. For example, Ray Kurzweil believes that “[wjithin a matter of 
centuries, human intelligence will have re-engineered and saturated all the 
matter in the universe.” 108 The writing of Kevin Kelly, another techie, is 
often so vague as to border on the meaningless, but he seems to say much 
the same thing that Kurzweil does about human conquest of the universe: 
“The universe is mostly empty because it is waiting to be filled with the 
products oflife and the technium... ,” 109 “The technium” is Kelly’s name for 
the technological world-system that humans have created here on Earth. 110 

Chapter Two: Part V 


Most versions of the technological utopia include immortality (at 
least for techies) among their other marvels. The immortality to which the 
techies believe themselves destined is conceived in any one of three forms: 

(i) the indefinite preservation of the living human body as it exists 
today; 111 

(ii) the merging of humans with machines and the indefinite survival 
of the resulting man-machine hybrids; 112 

(iii) the “uploading” of minds from human brains into robots or 
computers, after which the uploaded minds are to live forever within the 
machines. 113 

Of course, if the technological world-system is going to collapse in 
the not-too-distant future, as we’ve argued it must, then no one is going to 
achieve immortality in any form. But even assuming that we’re wrong and 
that the technological world-system will survive indefinitely, the techies’ 
dream of an unlimited life-span is still illusory. We need not doubt that 
it will be technically feasible in the future to keep a human body, or a 
man-machine hybrid, alive indefinitely. It is seriously to be doubted that 
it will ever be feasible to “upload” a human brain into electronic form with 
sufficient accuracy so that the uploaded entity can reasonably be regarded as 
a functioning duplicate of the original brain. Nevertheless, we will assume 
in what follows that each of the solutions (i), (ii), and (iii) will become 
technically feasible at some time within the next several decades. 

It is an index of the techies’ self-deception that they habitually 
assume that anything they consider desirable will actually be done when it 
becomes technically feasible. Of course, there are lots of wonderful things 
that already are and for a long time have been technically feasible, but 
don’t get done. Intelligent people have said again and again: “How easily 
men could make things much better than they are—if they only all tried 
together!” 114 But people never do “all try together,” because the principle 
of natural selection guarantees that self-prop systems will act mainly for 
their own survival and propagation in competition with other self-prop 
systems, and will not sacrifice competitive advantages for the achievement 
of philanthropic goals. 115 

Because immortality, as the techies conceive it, will be technically 
feasible, the techies take it for granted that some system to which they 
belong can and will keep them alive indefinitely, or provide them with what 
they need to keep themselves alive. Today it would no doubt be technically 
feasible to provide everyone in the world with everything that he or she 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

needs in the way of food, clothing, shelter, protection from violence, and 
what by present standards is considered adequate medical care—if only 
all of the world’s more important self-propagating systems would devote 
themselves unreservedly to that task. But that never happens, because the 
self-prop systems are occupied primarily with the endless struggle for power 
and therefore act philanthropically only when it is to their advantage to do 
so. That’s why billions of people in the world today suffer from malnutrition, 
or are exposed to violence, or lack what is considered adequate medical care. 

In view of all this, it is patently absurd to suppose that the technolog¬ 
ical world-system is ever going to provide seven billion human beings with 
everything they need to stay alive indefinitely. If the projected immortal¬ 
ity were possible at all, it could only be for some tiny subset of the seven 
billion—an elite minority. Some techies acknowledge this. 116 One has to 
suspect that a great many more recognize it but refrain from acknowledging 
it openly, for it is obviously imprudent to tell the public that immortality 
will be for an elite minority only and that ordinary people will be left out. 

The techies of course assume that they themselves will be included 
in the elite minority that supposedly will be kept alive indefinitely. What 
they find convenient to overlook is that self-prop systems, in the long run, 
will take care of human beings—even members of the elite—only to the 
extent that it is to the systems’ advantage to take care of them. When they 
are no longer useful to the dominant self-prop systems, humans—elite or 
not—will be eliminated. In order to survive, humans not only will have to be 
useful; they will have to be more useful in relation to the cost of maintaining 
them—in other words, they will have to provide a better cost-versus-benefit 
balance—than any non-human substitutes. This is a tall order, for humans 
are far more costly to maintain than machines are. 117 

It will be answered that many self-prop systems—governments, 
corporations, labor unions, etc.—do take care of numerous individuals 
who are utterly useless to them: old people, people with severe mental or 
physical disabilities, even criminals serving life sentences. But this is only 
because the systems in question still need the services of the majority of 
people in order to function. Humans have been endowed by evolution 
with feelings of compassion, because hunting-and-gathering bands thrive 
best when their members show consideration for one another and help one 
another. 118 As long as self-prop systems still need people, it would be to the 
systems’ disadvantage to offend the compassionate feelings of the useful 
majority through ruthless treatment of the useless minority. More important 

Chapter Two: Part V 


than compassion, however, is the self-interest of human individuals: People 
would bitterly resent any system to which they belonged if they believed 
that when they grew old, or if they became disabled, they would be thrown 
on the trash-heap. 

But when all people have become useless, self-prop systems will find 
no advantage in taking care of anyone. The techies themselves insist that 
machines will soon surpass humans in intelligence. 119 When that happens, 
people will be superfluous and natural selection will favor systems that 
eliminate them—if not abruptly, then in a series of stages so that the risk 
of rebellion will be minimized. 

Even though the technological world-system still needs large num¬ 
bers of people for the present, there are now more superfluous humans 
than there have been in the past because technology has replaced people in 
many jobs and is making inroads even into occupations formerly thought 
to require human intelligence. 120 Consequently, under the pressure of eco¬ 
nomic competition, the world’s dominant self-prop systems are already 
allowing a certain degree of callousness to creep into their treatment of 
superfluous individuals. In the United States and Europe, pensions and 
other benefits for retired, disabled, unemployed, and other unproductive 
persons are being substantially reduced; 121 at least in the U.S., poverty is 
increasing; 122 and these facts may well indicate the general trend of the 
future, though there will doubtless be ups and downs. 

It’s important to understand that in order to make people superfluous, 
machines will not have to surpass them in general intelligence but only in 
certain specialized kinds of intelligence. For example, the machines will not 
have to create or understand art, music, or literature, they will not need the 
ability to carry on an intelligent, non-technical conversation (the “Turing 
test” 123 ), they will not have to exercise tact or understand human nature, 
because these skills will have no application if humans are to be eliminated 
anyway. To make humans superfluous, the machines will only need to 
outperform them in making the technical decisions that have to be made 
for the purpose of promoting the short-term survival and propagation of 
the dominant self-prop systems. So, even without going as far as the techies 
themselves do in assuming intelligence on the part of future machines, 
we still have to conclude that humans will become obsolete. Immortality 
in the form (i)—the indefinite preservation of the human body as it exits 
today—is highly improbable. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

The techies of course will argue that even if the human body and 
brain as we know them become obsolete, immortality in the form (ii) can 
still be achieved: Man-machine hybrids will permanently retain their use¬ 
fulness, because by linking themselves with ever-more-powerful machines 
human beings (or what is left of them) will be able to remain competitive 
with pure machines. 124 

But man-machine hybrids will retain a biological component derived 
from human beings only as long as the human-derived biological component 
remains useful. When purely artificial components become available that 
provide a better cost-versus-benefit balance than human-derived biological 
components do, the latter will be discarded and the man-machine hybrids 
will lose their human aspect to become wholly artificial. 125 Even if the 
human-derived biological components are retained they will be purged, 
step by step, of the human qualities that detract from their usefulness. 
The self-prop systems to which the man-machine hybrids belong will have 
no need for such human weaknesses as love, compassion, ethical feelings, 
esthetic appreciation, or desire for freedom. Human emotions in general 
will get in the way of the self-prop systems’ utilization of the man-machine 
hybrids, so if the latter are to remain competitive they will have to be altered 
to remove their human emotions and replace these with other motivating 
forces. In short, even in the unlikely event that some biological remnants of 
the human race are preserved in the form of man-machine hybrids, these 
will be transformed into something totally alien to human beings as we 
know them today. 

The same applies to the hypothesized survival of human minds in 
“uploaded” form inside machines. The uploaded minds will not be toler¬ 
ated indefinitely unless they remain useful (that is, more useful than any 
substitutes not derived from human beings), and in order to remain useful 
they will have to be transformed until they no longer have anything in 
common with the human minds that exist today. 

Some techies may consider this acceptable. But their dream of 
immortality is illusory nonetheless. Competition for survival among enti¬ 
ties derived from human beings (whether man-machine hybrids, purely 
artificial entities evolved from such hybrids, or human minds uploaded 
into machines), as well as competition between human-derived entities and 
those machines or other entities that are not derived from human beings, 
will lead to the elimination of all but some minute percentage of all the 
entities involved. This has nothing to do with any specific traits of human 

Chapter Two: Part V 


beings or of their machines; it is a general principle of evolution through 
natural selection. Look at biological evolution: Of all the species that have 
ever existed on Earth, only some tiny percentage have direct descendants 
that are still alive today. 126 On the basis of this principle alone, and even 
discounting everything else we’ve said in this chapter, the chances that any 
given techie will survive indefinitely are minute. 

The techies may answer that even if almost all biological species 
are eliminated eventually , many species survive for thousands or millions 
of years, so maybe techies too can survive for thousands or millions of 
years. But when large, rapid changes occur in the environment of biological 
species, both the rate of appearance of new species and the rate of extinction 
of existing species are greatly increased. 127 Technological progress constantly 
accelerates, and techies like Ray Kurzweil insist that it will soon become 
virtually explosive; 128 consequently, changes come more and more rapidly, 
everything happens faster and faster, competition among self-prop systems 
becomes more and more intense, and as the process gathers speed the 
losers in the struggle for survival will be eliminated ever more quickly. So, 
on the basis of the techies’ own beliefs about the exponential acceleration 
of technological development, it’s safe to say that the life-expectancies of 
human-derived entities, such as man-machine hybrids and human minds 
uploaded into machines, will actually be quite short. The seven-hundred- 
year or thousand-year life-span to which some techies aspire 129 is nothing 
but a pipe-dream. 

Singularity University, which we discussed in Part VI of Chapter One 
of this book, purportedly was created to help technophiles “guide research” 
and “shape the advances” so that technology would “improve society.” We 
pointed out that Singularity University served in practice to promote the 
interests of technology-orientated businessmen, and we expressed doubt 
that the majority of technophiles fully believed in the drivel about “shap¬ 
ing the advances” to “improve society.” It does seem, however, that the 
techies —the subset of the technophiles that we specified at the beginning 
of this Part V of the present chapter—are entirely sincere in their belief 
that organizations like Singularity University 130 will help them to “shape 
the advances” of technology and keep the technological society on the road 
to a utopian future. A utopian future will have to exclude the competitive 
processes that would deprive the techies of their thousand-year life-span. 
But we showed in Chapter One that the development of our society can 
never be subject to rational control: The techies won’t be able to “shape 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

the advances” of technology, guide the course of technological progress, 
or exclude the intense competition that will eliminate nearly all techies in 
short order. 

In view of everything we’ve said up to this point, and in view moreover 
of the fact that the techies’ vision of the future is based on pure speculation 
and is unsupported by evidence, 131 one has to ask how they can believe in 
that vision. Some techies, e.g., Kurzweil, do concede a slight degree of 
uncertainty as to whether their expectations for the future will be realized, 132 
but this seems to be no more than a sop that they throw to the skeptics, 
something they have to concede in order to avoid making themselves too 
obviously ridiculous in the eyes of rational people. Despite their pro forma 
admission of uncertainty, it’s clear that most techies confidently expect 
to live for many centuries, if not forever, in a world that will be in some 
vaguely defined sense a utopia. 133 Thus Kurzweil states flatly: “We will be 
able to live as long as we want... ,” 134 He adds no qualifiers—no “prob¬ 
ably,” no “if things turn out as expected.” His whole book reveals a man 
intoxicated with a vision of the future in which, as an immortal machine, 
he will participate in the conquest of the universe. In fact, Kurzweil and 
other techies are living in a fantasy world. 

The techies’ belief-system can best be explained as a religious phe¬ 
nomenon, 135 to which we may give the name “Technianity.” It’s true that 
Technianity at this point is not strictly speaking a religion, because it has not 
yet developed anything resembling a uniform body of doctrine; the techies’ 
beliefs are widely varied. 136 In this respect Technianity probably resembles 
the inceptive stages of many other religions. Nevertheless, Technianity 
already has the earmarks of an apocalyptic and millenarian cult: In most 
versions it anticipates a cataclysmic event, the Singularity, 137 which is the 
point at which technological progress is supposed to become so rapid as 
to resemble an explosion. This is analogous to the Judgment Day 138 of 
Christian mythology or the Revolution of Marxist mythology. The cat¬ 
aclysmic event is supposed to be followed by the arrival of techno-utopia 
(analogous to the Kingdom of God or the Worker’s Paradise). Technianity 
has a favored minority—the Elect—consisting of the techies (equivalent 
to the True Believers of Christianity or the Proletariat of the Marxists 139 ). 
The Elect of Technianity, like that of Christianity, is destined to Eternal 
Life; though this element is missing from Marxism. 140 

Historically, millenarian cults have tended to emerge at “times of 
great social change or crisis.” 141 This suggests that the techies’ beliefs reflect 

Chapter Two: Notes 


not a genuine confidence in technology, but rather their own anxieties about 
the future of the technological society—anxieties from which they try to 
escape by creating a quasi-religious myth. 


1. From a speech delivered by Solzhenitsyn in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, Sept. 
1993. Quoted by Remnick, p. 21. Here Solzhenitsyn is referring to the famous 
article by Francis Fukuyama (see List of Works Cited). 

2. From “Self Reliance” (1841), in Emerson, p. 30. With this quote we do 
not mean to express a moral judgment about power in nature or elsewhere, but 
only an empirical fact about power. 

3. See Kaczynski, pp. 280-85, 418-421. According to Orr, p. 80, “In... 
‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,’ [Daniel] Dennett proclaimed that natural selection... 
helps to explain... the twists and turns of human cultural change.” I haven’t seen 
Dennett’s book and I don’t know to what extent, if any, the present chapter par¬ 
allels or contradicts his work. 

4. Heilbroner 8c Singer, pp. 26-27. 

5. A “nuclear family” is the basic human family consisting of a woman, a 
man, and any juvenile offspring they may have. 

6. When we refer to “competition,” we don’t necessarily mean intentional 
or willful competition. Competition, as we use the term, is just something that 
happens. For example, plants certainly have no intention to compete with one 
another. It is simply a fact that the plants that most effectively survive and prop¬ 
agate themselves tend to replace those plants that less effectively survive and 
propagate themselves. “Competition” in this sense of the word is just an inevitable 
process that goes on with or without any intention on the part of the competitors. 

7. Something along these lines, but more complicated, probably happened 
among the ancient Maya. It’s unlikely that the kind of competition we’ve described 
here was the sole cause of the collapse of the “Classic” Maya civilization, but it 
probably was at least a contributing factor and it way have been the most important 
factor. See: Diamond, pp. 157-177, 431. Sharer, pp. 355-57. NEB (2003), Vol. 
7, “Maya,” p. 970; Vol.15, “Central America,” p. 665; Vol. 26, “Pre-Columbian 
Civilizations,” p. 17. “Clean” historical examples are hard to find, because the 
causes of historical events tend to be complex and open to dispute; the Maya case 
illustrates this very well. For further discussion, see Appendix Two, Part A. 

8. When we refer to the exercise of “foresight” or to the “pursuit” of advan¬ 
tage, our reference is not limited to conscious, intelligent foresight or to intentional 
pursuit of advantage. We include any behavior (interpreting that word in the 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

broadest possible sense) that has the same effect as the exercise of foresight or the 
pursuit of advantage, regardless of whether the behavior is guided by any mecha¬ 
nism that could be described as “intelligence.” (Compare note 6.) Forexample, any 
vertebrates that, in the process of evolving into land animals, had the “foresight” 
to “attempt” to retain their gills (an advantage if they ever had to return to water) 
were at a disadvantage due to the biological cost of maintaining organs that were 
useless on land. Hence they lost out in “competition” with those incipient land 
animals that “pursued” their short-term advantage by getting rid of their gills. By 
losing their gills, reptiles, birds, and mammals have become dependent on access 
to the atmosphere; and that’s why whales today will drown if forced to remain 
submerged too long. 

9. The term “prompt” as used here is relative to the circumstances in which 
the self-prop system exists and the rapidity with which events that are important 
to it can be expected to occur. A hunting-and-gathering band might keep itself 
adequately informed about the condition of its territory even if it visited parts of 
it only once a year. At the other extreme, an advanced technological society needs 
almost instant long-distance communications. 

10. See Appendix Two, Part B. 

11. “Of toxic bonds and crippled nuke plants,” The Week, Jan. 28,2011, p. 
42 (using the term “tightly linked” in place of “tightly coupled”). Harford, p. 27. 
See also Perrow, Normal Accidents, pp. 89-100; “Black Swans,” The Week, April 
8, 2011, p. 13. 

12. Harford, p. 27. The Week, April 8, 2011, p. 13. 

13. Perrow, Next Catastrophe, Chapt. 9. 

14. This argument of course assumes that the most powerful self-prop sub¬ 
systems will be “intelligent” enough to distinguish between a situation in which 
their supersystem is subject to an immediate external threat, and a situation in 
which their supersystem is not subject to such a threat. The assumption, however, 
will surely be correct in the contexts that are relevant for our purposes. 

15. Silverman, p. 103. (Punctuation, capitalization, and so forth have been 
modernized here for the sake of readability.) Compare Alinsky, p. 149 (the struggle 
for power among powerful groups “permits only temporary truces, and only when 
[the powerful groups are] equally confronted by a common enemy”). 

16. See Appendix Two, Part C. 

17. See Appendix Two, Part D. 

18. E.g., Anonymous and the now-defunct LulzSec. The Economist, June 
18, 2011, pp. 67-68; Aug. 6, 2011, pp. 49-50. Saporito, pp. 50-52, 55. Acohido, 
“Hactivist group.” p. IB, and “LulzSec’s gone,” p. IB. 

19. E.g., Scandinavian biker gangs apparently have proven very difficult 
for the authorities to control. The Week, Aug. 20, 2010, p. 15. Authorities seem 

Chapter Two: Notes 


almost helpless against Chinese gangs that produce technologically sophisticated 
fake IDs that are good enough to fool even experts. USA Today, June 11,2012, p. 
1A; Aug. 7, 2012, p. 4A. Cybergangs that use the Internet for criminal purposes 
are technologically sophisticated and hard to stop. Acohido, “Hackers mine ad 
strategies,” p. 2B. Leger 8c Arutunyan, pp. 1A, 7A. 

20. See notes 53, 54 to Chapter Three. Also: The Week, May 21,2010, p. 8; 
May 28,2010, p. 6; Aug. 13, 2010, p. 6; Dec. 24, 2010-Jan. 7, 2011, p. 20. USA 
Today, Nov. 22, 2013, p. 8A. 

21. Kenya has been called a “narco-state,” The Week, Jan. 14, 2011, p. 18, 
and there is plenty of evidence that this is not far from the truth. Gastrow, Dec. 
2011, Chapt. One, especially pp. 24,26,28-34. “Available information does not... 
justify categorizing Kenya as a captured or criminalized state, but the country is 
clearly on its way to achieving that... status.” Gastrow, Sept. 2011, p. 10. The 
drug gangs involved operate internationally and have massively corrupted the 
governments of other African countries, such as Guinea-Bissau. O’Regan, p. 6. 

22. See Patterson, pp. 9-10, 63. 

23. Vick, pp. 46-51. The Economist, Dec. 10, 2011, p. 51. 

24. Heilbroner 8c Singer, pp. 58-60. 

25. Ibid., pp. 232-33,239. Rothkopf, p. 44. Foroohar, “Companies Are The 
New Countries,” p. 21. Corporations are also a dominant force within the U.S. 
political system, because their wealth enables them to offer politicians campaign 
contributions that in practice function as bribes. See The Week, Feb. 25,2011, p. 16. 

26. “U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas told [President] 
Franklin Roosevelt that government agencies more than ten years old should be 
abolished. After that point, they become more concerned with their image than 
with their mission.” David Brower, “Foreword,” in Wilkinson, p. ix. See also 
Keefe, p. 42, quoting Max Weber on bureaucracies’ “pure interest... in power.” 

27. Carrillo, pp. 77-78. Carrillo perhaps generalizes too broadly, but there 
is undoubtedly a good deal of truth in what he says here. 

28. Pakistan: Time, May 23,2011, p. 41. The Week, Nov. 26,2010, p. 15. The 
Economist, Feb. 12, 2011, p. 48; Feb. 26, 2011, p. 65 (“General Ashfaq Kayani... 
[is] widely seen as the most powerful in [Pakistan]”); April 2,2011, pp. 38-39; 
May 21,2011, p. 50 (“India’s most senior security officials say that Pakistan is still, 
in essence, a state run by its army”); June 18, 2011, p. 47 (calling Pakistan’s army 
“the country’s dominant institution”); July 30, 2011, p. 79. USA Today, May 13, 
2013, p. 5 A (“Despite protests over vote-rigging..., observers heralded Pakistan’s 
elections as a historic democratic exercise in a nation known for military takeovers. 
... .” But: “Athar Hussain, director of the Asia Research Center at the London 
School of Economics, said... ‘The army will still remain one of the most powerful 
forces in Pakistan’... .”). 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Recent (since 2011) events in Egypt have been massively publicized, and it 
should be obvious to the reader that the army is calling the shots in that country. 
As an example, we quote USA Today, Aug. 16, 2013, p. 1A: 

“Egypt’s military ousted [Mohammed] Morsi on July 3 [2013] after mil¬ 
lions protested Morsi’s policies as a new dictatorship of Islamists. ... Egyptian 
military chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has criticized [President] Obama for refusing 
to endorse the ouster of Morsi... . The Obama administration has not called the 
ouster a ‘military coup’... .” 

See also ibid., pp. 5A, 6A, and ibid., Oct. 30, 2013, p. 7A (“In a political 
vacuum, [Egypt’s] top army chief has edge”). 

29. For the sake of simplicity we define a lineage to be any sequence of 
organisms Oi, 0 2 , 0 3 , ... On such that 0 2 is an offspring of 0 3 , 0 3 is an off¬ 
spring of 0 2 , 0 4 is an offspring of 0 3 , and so on down to On- We say that such 
a lineage has survived to the Nth generation. But if On produces no offspring, 
then the lineage does not survive to generation N+l. For example, if John is the 
son of Mary and George is the son of John and Laura is the daughter of George, 
then Mary-John-George-Laura is a lineage that survives to the fourth generation. 
But if Laura produces no offspring, then the lineage does not survive to the Fifth 

30. See Appendix Two, Part E. 

31. Sodhi, Brook 8c Bradshaw, pp. 515, 517, 519. Benton, p. vii. 

32. Kurzweil, pp. 344-49. 

33. Ibid., p. 348. Kurzweil refers to an estimate that there should be “bil¬ 
lions” of technologically advanced civilizations within the range of our observation, 
but he plausibly argues that the assumptions on which this estimate is based 
are highly uncertain and probably overoptimistic (this writer would say wildly 
overoptimistic). Ibid., pp. 346-47, 357. On the other hand, since Kurzweil wrote 
in 2005 there have been numerous media reports of discoveries that indicate an 
abundance of planets, not so far from Earth, on which, as far as anyone can tell, 
life could have evolved. E.g.: The Week, June 3, 2011, p. 21; Sept. 30, 2011, p. 23; 
Jan. 27,2012, p. 19. Time, June 6, 2011, p. 18. The Economist, Dec. 10, 2011, p. 
90. USA Today, Feb. 7,2013, p. 5A; April 19-21,2013, p. 7A; Nov. 5,2013, p. 5A. 
Polish American Journal, July 2013, p. 7. Lieberman, pp. 36-39. So an explanation 
is needed for the fact that our astronomers have detected no indication of any 
extraterrestrial civilizations at all. See Kurzweil, p. 357. It should be noted that 
in this connection Kurzweil egregiously misuses the “anthropic principle.” Ibid. 

34. From our remarks about Social Darwinism in Part I of this chapter, it 
should be clear that our intention here is not to exalt competition or portray it as 
desirable. We aren’t making value-judgments in that regard. Our purpose is only 
to set forth the relevant facts, however unpleasant those facts may be. 

Chapter Two: Notes 


35. E.g.: “As [Barbara] Tuchman put it..., ‘Chief among the forces affecting 
political folly is lust for power... Diamond, p. 431. 

36. E.g.: “Governments... regularly operate on a short-term focus: they... 
pay attention only to problems that are on the verge of explosion. For example, a 
friend of mine who is closely connected to the current [George W. Bush] federal 
administration in Washington, D.C., told me that, when he visited Washington 
for the first time after the 2000 national elections, he found that our government’s 
new leaders had what he termed a ‘90-day focus’: they talked only about those prob¬ 
lems with the potential to cause a disaster within the next 90 days.” Ibid., p. 434. 

37. See Appendix Two, Part F. 

38. For other parts of the reason, see Kaczynski, pp. 263-64, 300-02, 
311-19, 323-24, 326. 

39. This assumption is implicit in, e.g., Benton, pp. vi, viii; McKinney 8c 
Lockwood, p. 452; Feeney, pp. 20-21. 

40. See Benton, p. vii. 

41. Ibid., p. iv. NEB (2007), Vol. 4, “dinosaur,” p. 104; Vol. 17, “Dinosaurs,” 
pp. 317-18. 

42. See note 41. 

43. Duxbury 8cDuxbury, pp. 111-12, 413-14. Zierenberg, Adams 8c Arp. 
Beatty et al. 

44. The Week, June 8, 2012, p. 21. 

45. Kerr, p. 703. 

46. Popular Science, June 2013, p. 97. 

47. Samuel Butler, Hudibras. 

48. Zierenberg, Adams 8c Arp, p. 12962. 

49. Kerr, p. 703. 

50. Klemm, pp. 147-48. 

51. E.g., during the 1980s I enquired about certain numbered stakes I had 
found in the mountains in the vicinity of Lincoln, Montana. I was told that the 
stakes indicated locations where samples of soil had been collected to be analyzed 
to determine whether they contained minute traces of valuable metals. Mineable 
deposits of gold, etc., supposedly could be located through this procedure. 

52. E.g., miners have learned to use cyanide solutions and mercury—both 
highly poisonous—to leach gold out of sediments or crushed rock. Zimmermann, 
pp. 270-71, 276. NEB (2002), Vol. 21, “Industries, Extraction and Processing,” 
pp. 491-92. At least in the case of cyanide leaching, this can be done profitably 
even where only a minute quantity of gold is present in each ton of material 
treated. Diamond, p. 40. As regards iron, methods have been developed for uti¬ 
lizing low-grade ores such as taconite. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “United States of 
America,” p. 372. See Zimmermann, pp. 271-73. Some iron ores contained too 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

much phosphorus, so that steel produced from them was “almost unfit for practi¬ 
cal purposes.” Ibid., p. 284. Manchester, p. 32. The utilization of these ores was 
made possible by the invention at some time between 1875 and 1879 (sources are 
inconsistent as to the date) of the Thomas-Gilchrist process for making low-phos¬ 
phorus steel from high-phosphorus ore. Zimmermann, p. 284. NEB (2003), Vol. 
5, “Gilchrist, Percy (Carlyle),” p. 265; Vol. 11, “Thomas, Sidney Gilchrist,” p. 716; 
Vol. 21, “Industries, Extraction and Processing,” pp. 420, 422, 447-48. 

53. E.g., Watson, p. 1A (widespread mercury contamination from old 
gold-mining operations); Diamond, pp. 36-37, 40-41, 453-57. 

54. Diamond, pp. 455-56. 

55. Current indispensability of rare earths: Folger, pp. 138, 140. Former 
limited utility of rare earths: NEB (2007), Vol. 15, “Chemical Elements,” pp. 
1016-17. Even the rare earths that had important uses, cerium and lanthanum, 
were probably used only in relatively small quantities. E.g., only 10% (ibid.) or 1% 
(Zimmermann, p. 400) of cerium nitrate was used with 90% or 99% of thorium 
(not a rare earth) nitrate in solutions to treat mantles for gas lamps, and it wouldn’t 
have taken much solution to treat a large number of mantles. 

56. Margonelli, p. 17. Folger, loc. cit. (hundreds of pounds of neodymium 
for a single wind turbine). 

57. Margonelli, p. 18. Folger, p. 145. NEB (2007), loc. cit. 

58. The Bouma postyard near Lincoln, Montana, which treated posts and 
poles with cupric arsenate, was in operation throughout the author’s 25-year res¬ 
idence in that area. 

59. For this whole paragraph see Zimmermann, pp. 323-24,401-07; NEB 
(2002), Vol. 21, “Industries, Extraction and Processing,” pp. 515, 520, 523-28; 
Krauss, p. B8. Allan Nevins’s biography of John D. Rockefeller (see List of 
Works Cited), who created the Standard Oil Company, is also of interest in this 

60. For this whole paragraph up to this point, see NEB (2002), Vol. 21, 
“Industries, Extraction and Processing,” pp. 515-19; Mann, pp. 48-63; Walsh, 
“Power Surge,” pp. 36-39; Reed, p. B6; Rosenthal, p. B6; Johnson 8c Gold, pp. 
Al, A6; USA Today, May 10, 2011, p. 2A, Nov. 23, 2012, p. 10A, Nov. 4, 2013, 
p. 3B, and Nov. 14, 2013, p. 1A. 

61. See, e.g., Walsh, “Gas Dilemma,” pp. 43, 45-46, 48. 

62. Ibid., p. 42. 

63. This conclusion is strongly suggested by the theory of natural selection 
as developed in the present chapter, and it is supported empirically by the system’s 
failure to solve other problems that require worldwide international cooperation 
and renunciation of competitive advantages (e.g., the failure to eliminate war or 
nuclear weapons), as well as the failure to deal with the greenhouse effect itself. 

Chapter Two: Notes 


Note failure of global-warming summits in Copenhagen, USA Today, Nov. 16, 
2009, p. 5A and Cancun, The Week , Dec. 10, 2010, p. 23, “Climate change: 
Resignation sets in” (“[T]he ‘Great Gurus of Green’ were truly deluded in thinking 
they could get 192 countries to sign on to a treaty curbing their carbon emissions. 
‘The fight to limit global warming... is thus over’... The only question now about 
the warming planet is ‘how to live with it’... rising sea levels, droughts and food 
shortages... .”). 

64. See Kaczynski, pp. 314-15, 417-18; Wald, “Nuclear Industry Seeks 
Interim Site,” pp. Al, A20, and “What Now for Nuclear Waste?,” pp. 48-53. 

65. See, e.g., “Radioactive fuel rods: The silent threat,” The Week , April 
15, 2011, p. 13. Even where cleanup efforts are undertaken, they are likely to be 
characterized by incompetence and inefficiency. See, e.g., USA Today, Aug. 29, 
2012, p. 2A. 

66. Carroll, pp. 30-33. Koch, p. 4B. 

67. Carroll, p. 33 (“The isolated Alaska village of Galena is in discussions 
with Toshiba” to buy a mini-nuke). 

68. Matheny, p. 3A. 

69. Welch, p. 3A. The Week, March 23, 2012, p. 14. 

70. Welch, p. 3A. MacLeod, p. 7A. 

71. Welch, p. 3A. 

72. The Economist, April 2, 2011, p. 65. 

73. Here we take no account of the possibility that nuclear fusion reactors 
may some day provide (allegedly) unlimited quantities of (allegedly) clean energy. 
As far as I’m aware there has been no substantial progress toward the achievement 
of controlled fusion, nor do I have any information bearing on possible environ¬ 
mental problems entailed by controlled fusion. Suffice it to say that I suspect 
energy from controlled fusion (if it is ever achieved) will prove to be no exception 
to the rule that “there’s no free lunch when it comes to meeting our energy needs” 
(see note 68). In any case, this “unlimited” source of energy, however large, is in 
fact finite. If it ever becomes available, I would expect the system’s consumption 
of energy to increase exponentially until some limit is reached. If nothing else, 
the amount of heat eventually generated will lead—quite independently of any 
greenhouse effect—to an intolerable level of global warming. 

74. Matheny, p. 3A. 

75. Ibid. See Walsh, “Power Surge,” pp. 34-35. Also, the manufacture of 
solar panels indirectly generates radioactive waste, because solar panels require 
rare earths. “Relying on China is a big mistake,” The Week, Oct. 22, 2010, p. 18. 

76. Kurzweil, p. 13. In some important ways Kurzweil himself falls into 
this error. 

77. Ibid., p. 12. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

78. According to Zimmermann, p. 323, the first functioning internal com¬ 
bustion engine (fueled by gas) was built in 1860. Internal combustion engines 
using gasoline and kerosene came later. 

79. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “War, Technology of,” p. 575. 

80. NEB (2003), Vol. 14, “Atmosphere,” pp. 317, 321-22, 330-31, and 
“Biosphere,” p. 1155. 

81. Ibid., “Biosphere,” p. 1155, says that the Earth’s atmosphere once was 
“largely composed of carbon dioxide,” but this is unlikely, since ibid., “Atmosphere,” 
p. 321, refers to an “approximately hundredfold decline of atmospheric C0 2 [= 
carbon dioxide] abundances from [3.5 billion] years ago to the present.” The 
present atmosphere contains roughly 400 parts per million, or 0.04%, of C0 2 . 
Kunzig, p. 96 (chart). So the atmosphere of 3.5 billion years ago must have con¬ 
tained something like 100x0.04%=4% ofC0 2 . (For our purposes, 3.5 billion years 
ago can be taken as “the beginning” for planet Earth. See NEB (2003), Vol. 19, 
“Geochronology,” p. 783.) 

82. Today, it is believed, the Sun radiates at least 25% more energy than 
it did 3.5 billion years ago. NEB (2003), Vol. 14, “Biosphere,” p. 1155. Possibly 
as much as 33% more, for “the Sun has been shining at least four billion years. 

... Model calculations conclude that the Sun becomes 10 percent brighter every 
billion years; hence it must now be at least 40 percent brighter than at the time of 
planet formation.” Ibid., Vol. 27, “Solar System,” p. 457.1 assume that this 10% 
per billion years increment in brightness is to be calculated as one calculates simple 
interest, for if it were calculated like compound interest then the total increase in 
brightness over four billion years would be not 40% but 46.4%. On this assump¬ 
tion, the increase in brightness over the last 3.5 billion years would be about 33% 
of the brightness of 3.5 billion years ago. On the other hand, contrary to the 10% 
rule, the “Sun seems to have been shining at its present rate for about the last 20 
percent of its current age of [5 billion] years,” i.e., for about the last billion years. 
Ibid., Vol. 28, “Stars and Star Clusters,” p. 199. These inconsistencies point up 
the uncertainty of such estimates of past conditions. 

83. Ibid., Vol. 14, “Biosphere,” p. 1155. See also ibid., “Atmosphere,” p. 330. 

84. Ibid., p. 321. Mann, p. 56. 

85. E.g., Mann, p. 62. 

86. Ward, pp. 74-75. 

87. Regarding methane see, e.g., USA Today, March 5, 2010, p. 3A 
(“Methane... appears to be seeping through the Arctic Ocean floor and into the 
Earth’s atmosphere...”); Mann, pp. 56, 62. 

88. Kunzig, p. 94. 

89. Ibid., p. 96 (chart caption). 

90. Ibid., pp. 90-91. 

91. Ibid., p. 94. 

Chapter Two: Notes 


92. Ibid., p. 109 (“That episode doesn’t tell us what will happen to life on 
Earth if we... burn the rest [of our planet’s fossil-fuel reserves].”). 

93. Ibid., pp. 105-08. 

94. See Wood, pp. 70-76; Sarewitz 8c Pielke, p. 59; Time, March 24, 
2008, p. 50. 

95. Wood, pp. 72, 73, 76. 

96. See Appendix Four. 

97. E.g., Science News, Vol. 163, Feb. 1, 2003, p. 72 (mercury); Batra (cad¬ 
mium); The Week, May 14, 2010, p. 18, “India: The world’s garbage dump for 

98. See notes 17,18 to Chapter One and, e.g., Vegetarian Times, May 2004, 
p. 13 (quoting Los Angeles Times of Jan. 13, 2004); U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 
24, 2000, pp. 30-31. On cyanide, see notes 52 8c 53, above. 

99. Regarding the effects of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, see 
Time, Sept 27,2010, p. 18; The Week, Sept. 24, 2010, p. 7. 

100. The Week, June 18, 2010, p. 12. 

101. E.g., The Week, April 22, 2011, p. 23. See also NEB (2003), Vol. 
19, “Geochronology,” p. 783. Let’s not count our chicks before they’re hatched; 
efforts to save the ozone layer may not be as effective as we hope. For one thing, 
chlorofluorocarbons (“CFCs”) are not the only source of human-caused damage 
to the ozone layer. E.g., the burning of rocket fuels based on ammonium per¬ 
chlorate produces chlorine compounds that attack ozone. For another thing, the 
international agreement to phase out CFCs was possible only because CFCs are 
of relatively minor economic importance. If new uses for CFCs are discovered 
that greatly increase their economic importance, the agreement may not hold up. 

102. Examples: Artificial lighting is thought to be partly responsible 
for dramatic declines in firefly populations. National Geographic, June 2009, 
“ENVIRONMENT: Dimming Lights,” unnumbered page. Many thousands of 
untested chemicals are getting into our environment, The Week, March 12,2010, 
p. 14 and Dec. 2, 2011, p. 18; Time, April 12, 2010, pp. 59-60, and these some¬ 
times turn out to have unexpected harmful effects, e.g., “Shrimp on Prozac,” The 
Week, Aug. 6, 2010, p. 19. Exotic species brought into a region in the belief that 
they are harmless often reproduce uncontrollably and do enormous damage. See 
note 36 to Appendix Two. 

103. NEB (2003), Vol. 26, “Rivers.” p. 860. 

104. E.g., Denver Post, Aug. 23, 2005, p. 2B. 

105. NEB (2003), Vol. 14, “Atmosphere,” p. 331. 

106. For some remarks concerning small islands in relation to the theory 
developed in the present chapter, see Appendix Two, Part G. 

107. It is significant that Ray Kurzweil, the best-known of the techie proph¬ 
ets, started out as a science-fiction enthusiast. Kurzweil, p. 1. Kim Eric Drexler, 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

the prophet of nanotechnology, started out “specializing in theories of space travel 
and space colonization.” Keiper, p. 20. 

108. Grossman, p. 49, col. 2. Kurzweil, pp. 351-368. 

109. Kelly, p. 357. 

110. Ibid., pp. 11-12. 

111. Grossman, p. 47. Kurzweil, p. 320. 

112. Grossman, p. 44, col. 3. Kurzweil, pp. 194-95, 309, 377. Vance, p. 1, 
col. 3; p. 6, col. 1. 

113. Grossman, p. 44, col. 3; p. 48, col. 1; p. 49, col. 1. Kurzweil, pp. 198— 
203, 325-26, 377. The techies seem to assume that their own consciousness will 
survive the uploading process. On that subject Kurzweil is somewhat equivocal, 
but in the end seems to assume that his consciousness will survive if his brain is 
replaced with nonbiological components not all at once, but bit by bit over a period 
of time. Kurzweil, pp. 383-86. 

114. Winston Churchill, Sept. 15, 1909, quoted by Jenkins, p. 212. Other 
examples: “... liberty, toleration, equality of opportunity, socialism... there is no 
reason why any of them should not be fully realised, in a society or in the world, 
if it were the united purpose of a society or of the world to realise it.” Bury, p. 1 
(originally published in 1920; see ibid., p. xvi). On July 22, 1944, John Maynard 
Keynes noted that forty-four nations had been learning to “work together.” He 
added: “If we can so continue... [t]he brotherhood of man will have become more 
than a phrase.” (Fat chance!) Skidelsky, p. 355. 

115. This of course does not mean that no self-prop system ever does any¬ 
thing beneficent that is contrary to its own interest, but the occasional exceptions 
are relatively insignificant. Bear in mind that many apparently beneficent actions 
are actually to the advantage of the self-prop system that carries them out. 

116. Grossman, p. 48, col. 3 (“Who decides who gets to be immortal?”). 
Vance, p. 6, col. 1. 

117. Humans need to be fed, clothed, housed, educated, entertained, disci¬ 
plined, and provided with medical care. Whereas machines can work continuously 
with only occasional down-time for repairs, humans need to spend a great deal 
of time sleeping and resting. 

118. Also, modern societies find it advantageous to encourage people’s 
compassionate feelings through propaganda. See Kaczynski, pp. 157,160,200-01. 

119. Grossman, pp. 44-46. Kurzweil, pp. 135ff and passim. Machines 
that surpass humans in intelligence might not be digital computers as we know 
them today. They might have to depend on quantum-theoretic phenomena, or 
they might have to make use of complex molecules as biological systems do. See 
Grossman, p. 48, col. 2; Kurzweil, pp. 111-122. This writer has little doubt that, 
with commitment of sufficient resources over a sufficient period of time, it would 
be technically feasible to develop artificial devices having general intelligence that 

Chapter Two: Notes 


surpasses that of humans (“strong artificial intelligence,” or “strong AI,” Kurzweil, 
p. 260). See Kaczynski, p. 329. Whether it would be technically feasible to develop 
strong AI as soon as Kurzweil, p. 262, predicts is another matter. Moreover, it is 
seriously to be doubted whether the world’s leading self-prop systems will ever have 
any need for strong AI. If they don’t, then there’s no reason to assume that they 
will commit to it sufficient resources for its development. See Somers, pp. 93-94. 
Contra: The Atlantic, July/Aug. 2013, pp. 40-41; The Week , Nov. 4, 2011, p. 18. 
However, the assumption that strong AI will soon appear plays an important role 
in Kurzweil’s vision of the future, so we could accept that assumption and proceed 
to debunk Kurzweil’s vision by reductio ad absurdum. But the argument of Part 
V of this chapter does not require the assumption that strong AI will ever exist. 

120. E.g.: The Week, Sept. 30, 2011, p. 14 (“Capitalism is killingthe middle 
class”); Feb. 17, 2012, p. 42 (“No reason to favor manufacturing”); April 6, 2012, 
p. 11; May 4, 2012, p. 39 (“The half-life of software engineers”). USA Today, 
July 9, 2010, pp. 1B-2B (machines as stock-market traders); April 24, 2012, p. 
3A (computer scoring of essays); Sept. 14, 2012, p. 4F. The Economist, Sept. 10, 
2011, p. 11 and “Special report: The future of jobs”; Nov. 19, 2011, p. 84. The 
Atlantic, June 2013, pp. 18-20. Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2013, p. B6. Popular 
Science, June 2013, p. 28 (robots as companions). Davidson, pp. 60-70. Carr, 
pp. 78-80. Foroohar, “What Happened to Upward Mobility?,” pp. 29-30, 34. 
Markoff, “Skilled Work Without the Worker.” pp. AI, A19. Lohr, p. B3. Rotman 
(entire article). 

121. E.g.: USA Today, July 20, 2011, p. 3A (“Painful plan in R.I.”); Sept. 
29, 2011, pp. 1A, 4A; Sept. 14, 2012, p. 5A (Spain); Sept. 24, 2012, p. 6B (sev¬ 
eral European countries); Sept. 28,2012, p. 5B (Spain); Aug. 5, 2013, p. 3A. The 
Economist, June 11,2011, p. 58 (Sweden). The Week, July 29, 2011, p. 12 (“The end 
of the age of entitlements”). Drehle, p. 32. A friend of the authorwrote on Oct. 3, 
2012: “[My parents] don’t have any set up for long term care... and at this point 
many states... are doing what is called estate recovery and the like, which means 
that if Dad were to go in a nursing home... either his Veteran’s stipend, social 
security, and pension would all go into paying for the care, meaning Mom would 
not have enough to live on... or, in a diff erent scenario, Medicaid would put a lien 
on their house and when he dies, mom would be out of luck so Medicaid could 
be repaid for his ‘care’—which at that low level is very poor care, by selling the 
house.” In regard to probable future treatment of people who seek immortality: 
“The frozen head of baseball legend Ted Williams has not been treated well... . 
[A]t one point Williams’s head, which the slugger ordered frozen in hopes of one 
day being brought back to life, was propped up by an empty tuna-fish can and 
became stuck to it. To detach the can... staff whacked it repeatedly with a monkey 
wrench, sending ‘tiny pieces of frozen head’ flying around the room.” The Week, 
Oct. 16, 2009, p. 14. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

122. E.g.: USA Today, Sept. 29, 2011, pp. 1A-2A. The Week, Sept. 30, 
2011, p. 21 (“Poverty: Decades of progress, slipping away”); July 27, 2012, p. 16 
(“Why the poor are getting poorer”). Kiviat, pp. 35-37. Also: “Half of all U.S. 
workers earned less than $26,364 in 2010—the lowest median wage since 1999, 
adjusted for inflation.” The Week, Nov. 4, 2011, p. 18. “The average American 
family’s net worth dropped almost 40 percent... between 2007 and 2010.” Ibid., 
June 22,2012, p. 34. 

123. NEB (2003), Vol. 12, “Turing test,” p. 56. NEB is more accurate on the 
Turing test than is Kurzweil, p. 294: In order to pass the test, machines may not 
have to “emulate the flexibility, subtlety, and suppleness of human intelligence.” 
See, e.g., The Week, Nov. 4, 2011, p. 18. 

124. Grossman, p. 44, col. 3. Vance, p. 6, col. 4. Kurzweil, pp. 24-25, 309, 
377. Man-machine hybrids are also called “cyborgs.” 

125. Kurzweil, p. 202, seems to agree. 

126. “Species come and go continually—around 99.9 per cent [of] all those 
that have ever existed are now extinct.” Benton, p. ii. We assume this means that 
99.9 percent have become extinct without leaving any direct descendants that 
are alive today. Independently of that assumption, it’s clear from the general 
pattern of evolution that only some minute percentage of all species that have 
ever existed can have descendants that are alive today. See, e.g., NEB (2003), Vol. 
14, “Biosphere,” pp. 1154-59; Vol. 19, “Fishes,” p. 198, and “Geochronology,” 
especially pp. 750-52, 785, 792, 794-95, 797, 802, 813-14, 819, 820, 825-27, 
831-32, 836, 838-39, 848-49, 858-59, 866-67, 872. Extinctions have by no means 
been limited to a few major “extinction events”; they have occurred continually 
throughout the evolutionary process, though at a rate that has varied widely over 
time. See Benton, p. ii; NEB (2003), Vol. 18, “Evolution, Theory of,” pp. 878-79; 
NEB (2007), Vol. 17, “Dinosaurs,” p. 318. 

127. We don’t have explicit authority for this statement, though it receives 
some support from Sodhi, Brook 8c Bradshaw, p. 518. We make the statement 
mainly because it’s just common sense and seems generally consistent with the 
facts of evolution. We’re betting that most evolutionary biologists would agree 
with it, though they might add various reservations and qualifications. 

128. Grossman, pp. 44-46, 49. Vance, p. 6, cols. 3-5. Kurzweil, e.g., pp. 
9, 25 (“an hour would result in a century of progress”). 

129. Vance, p. 7, col. 1 (700 years). “Mr. Immortality,” The Week, Nov. 16, 
2007, pp. 52-53 (1,000 years). 

130. Other such organizations are the Foresight Institute, Keiper, p. 29; 
Kurzweil, pp.229, 395, 411, 418-19, and the Singularity Institute, Grossman, p. 
48, col. 3; Kurzweil, p. 599 note 45. 

131. There is of course evidence to support many of the techies’ beliefs 
about particular technological developments, e.g., their belief that the power of 

Chapter Two: Notes 


computers will increase at an ever-accelerating rate, or that it will some day be 
technically feasible to keep a human body alive indefinitely. But there is no evi¬ 
dence to support the techies’ beliefs about the future of society, e.g., their belief 
that our society will actually keep some people alive for hundreds of years, or will 
be motivated to expand over the entire universe. 

132. Grossman, p. 48, col. 3; p. 49, col. 1 (“the future beyond the Singularity 
is not knowable”). Vance, p. 7, col. 4. See Kurzweil, pp. 420, 424. 

133. “[S]ome people see the future of computing as a kind of heaven.” 
Christian, p. 68. The utopian cast of techie beliefs is reflected in the name of 
Keiper’s journal, The New Atlantis , evidently borrowed from the title of an incom¬ 
plete sketch of a technological “ideal state” that Francis Bacon wrote in 1623. Bury, 
pp. 59-60 8c note 1. Probably most techies would deny that they are anticipating a 
utopia, but that doesn’t make their vision less utopian. For example, Kelly, p. 358, 
writes: “The technium... is not utopia.” But on the very next page he launches into 
a utopian rhapsody: “The technium... expands life’s fundamental goodness. ... 
The technium... expands the mind’s fundamental goodness. Technology... will 
populate the world with all conceivable ways of comprehending the infinite.” Etc. 
Kelly’s book as a whole can best be described as a declaration of faith. 

134. Kurzweil, p. 9. 

135. Several observers have noticed the religious quality of the techies’ 
beliefs. Grossman, p. 48, col. 1. Vance, p. 1, col. 4. Markoff, “Ay Robot!,” p. 
4, col. 2 (columns occupied by advertisements are not counted). Keiper, p. 24. 
Kurzweil, p. 370, acknowledges the comment of one such observer, then shrugs 
it off by remarking, “I did not come to my perspective as a result of searching for 
an alternative to customary faith.” But this is irrelevant. St. Paul, according to the 
biblical account, was not searching for a new faith when he experienced the most 
famous of all conversions; in fact, he had been energetically persecuting Christians 
right up to the moment when Jesus allegedly spoke to him. Acts 9: 1-31. Saul = 
Paul, Acts 13: 9. Certainly many, perhaps the majority, of those who undergo a 
religious conversion do so not because they have consciously searched for one, but 
because it has simply come to them. 

Like Kurzweil, many techies stand to profit financially from Technianity, 
but it is entirely possible to hold a religious belief quite sincerely even while one 
profits from it. See, e.g., The Economist, Oct. 29, 2011, pp. 71-72. 

136. E.g., Grossman, p. 46, col. 2. 

137. Grossman, pp. 44-46. Kurzweil, p. 9. Another version of the 
Singularity is the “assembler breakthrough” posited by nanotechnology buffs. 
Keiper, pp. 23-24. 

138. It’s not entirely clear whether the Day of Judgment and the Second 
Coming of Jesus are supposed to occur at the same time or are to be separated by 
a thousand years. Compare Relevation 20: 1-7,12-13 with NEB (2003), Vol. 17, 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

“Doctrines and Dogmas, Religious,” p. 406 (referring to “the Second Coming... 
of Christ... to judge the living and the dead”) and ibid., Vol. 7, “Last Judgment,” 
p. 175. But for our purposes this is of little importance. 

139. A correspondent (perhaps under the mistaken impression that the 
proletariat included all of the “lower” classes) has raised the objection that the 
proletariat was not a minority. For our purposes it is not very important whether the 
Elect of Marxist mythology, or the proletariat, was literally a numerical minority 
of the population, so it wouldn’t be worth our while to spend much time on this 
question. Let the following suffice: Marxist literature is not consistent as to who 
belongs to the proletariat. For instance, Lenin in 1899 held that the poor peasants 
constituted a “rural proletariat.” See “The Development of Capitalism in Russia,” 
e.g., Conclusions to Chapter II, section 5; in Christman, p. 19. But in 1917 Lenin 
clearly implied that the peasantry, including the poor peasants, did not belong 
to the proletariat, which he now identified as “the armed vanguard of all the 
exploited, of all the toilers.” See “The State and Revolution,” Chapt. II, section 
1; Chapt. Ill, sections 1 8c3; respectively pp. 287-88, 299, 307 in Christman. 
It is the proletariat in this sense—the vanguard of all the toilers—that we have 
in mind when we speak of the Elect of Marxist mythology, and it’s clear from 
Marxist theory generally that the proletariat in this sense was to consist mainly if 
not exclusively of industrial workers. E.g., Lenin wrote in 1902: “the strength of 
the modern [socialist] movement lies in the awakening of the masses (principally 
the industrial proletariat)...” (emphasis added). “What is to be Done?,” Chapt. II, 
first paragraph; in Christman, pp. 72-73. See also NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin,” 
p. 933 (describing the proletariat as “an industrial working class”). Almost cer¬ 
tainly, industrial workers have never constituted a majority of the population of 
any country. Compare Bertrand Russell’s view of Marxism, NEB (2003), Vol. 17, 
“Doctrines and Dogmas, Religious,” p. 408. 

140. On the subject of apocalyptic and millenarian cults, see NEB (2003), 
Vol. 1, “apocalyptic literature” and “apocalypticism,” p. 482; Vol. 17, “Doctrines 
and Dogmas, Religious,” pp. 402, 406, 408. Also the Bible, Revelation 20. 

141. NEB (2003), Vol. 8, “millennium,” p. 133. See also Vol. 17, “Doctrines 
and Dogmas, Religious,” p. 401 (“Eschatological themes thrive particularly in crisis 
situations...”). Example: millenarian cults in China during the period when the 
Yuan dynasty was breaking up. Mote, pp. 502, 518, 520, 529, 533. 


How to Transform a Society: 
Errors to Avoid 

In studying any complex process in which there are two or 
more contradictions, we must devote every effort to finding 
its principal contradiction. Once this principal contradiction 
is grasped, all problems can be readily solved. 

—Mao Zedong 1 

In this chapter we will state some rules that deserve the attention 
of anyone who wants to bring about radical changes in a society. Not all 
of the rules are precise enough to be easily applied and some may not be 
applicable in every situation, but if a radical movement fails to take the rules 
into account it risks throwing away its chances of success. 

In the first part of this chapter we will give a brief and simplified 
explanation of the rules. Further on we will examine the meaning of the 
rules, illustrate them with examples, and discuss the limits of their appli¬ 
cability. In the last part of the chapter we will show how ignorance of the 
rules ensures the failure of present-day efforts to deal with the problems 
generated by modern technology, including the problem of environmental 

I. Postulates and Rules 

We begin by stating four postulates. We postpone a discussion of 
the extent to which the postulates are true. 

Postulate 1. You can’t change a society by pursuing goals that are vague 
or abstract. You have to have a clear and concrete goal. As an experienced 
activist put it: “Vague, over-generalized objectives are seldom met. The trick 
is to conceive of some specific development which will inevitably propel 
your community in the direction you want it to go.” 2 



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Postulate 2. Preaching alone—the mere advocacy of ideas—cannot 
bring about important, long-lasting changes in the behavior of human 
beings, unless in a very small minority. 3 

Postulate 3. Any radical movement tends to attract many people who 
may be sincere, but whose goals are only loosely related to the goals of the 
movement. 4 The result is that the movement’s original goals may become 
blurred, if not completely perverted. 5 

Postulate 4. Every radical movement that acquires great power 
becomes corrupt, at the latest, when its original leaders (meaning those 
who joined the movement while it was still relatively weak) are all dead or 
politically inactive. In saying that a movement becomes corrupt, we mean 
that its members, and especially its leaders, primarily seek personal advan¬ 
tages (such as money, security, social status, powerful offices, or a career) 
rather than dedicating themselves sincerely to the ideals of the movement. 

From these postulates we can infer certain rules to which every radical 
movement should pay close attention. 

Rule (i) In order to change a society in a specified way, a movement 
should select a single, clear, simple, and concrete objective the achievement 
of which will produce the desired change. 

It follows from Postulate 1 that the movement’s objectives must be 
clear and concrete. According to Postulate 3 there will be a tendency for the 
movement’s objectives to become blurred or perverted, and this tendency 
will be most easily resisted if the movement has only a single objective that 
is simple in addition to being clear and concrete. As seen in the epigraph, 
above, Mao emphasized the importance of identifying the “principal con¬ 
tradiction” in any situation, and this one principal contradiction commonly 
will point to a single, decisive objective that a movement needs to achieve 
in order to transform a society. 

In any conflict situation in which victory is uncertain, it is always 
essential to concentrate one’s efforts on the achievement of the single most 
critical objective. Military practitioners and theorists like Napoleon and 
Clausewitz recognized the importance of concentrating one’s forces at the 

Chapter Three: Part I 


decisive point, 6 and Lenin noted that this principle applies in politics as 
it does in war. 7 But we shouldn’t need Napoleon, Clausewitz, or Lenin to 
tell us this—it’s just common sense: When you’re facing a difficult struggle 
and have no strength to spare, you’d better concentrate what strength you 
have where it will do the most good: on the single most critical objective. 

Rule (ii) If a movement aims to transform a society, then the objective 
selected by the movement must be of such a nature that, once the objective 
has been achieved, its consequences will be irreversible. This means that, 
once society has been transformed through the achievement of the objective, 
society will remain in its transformed condition without any further effort 
on the part of the movement or anyone else. 

In order to transform society, the movement will have to acquire great 
power and therefore, according to Postulate 4, will soon become corrupt. 
Once corrupted, the members of the movement or their successors will no 
longer exert themselves to maintain the transformed condition of society 
that corresponds to the ideals of the movement, but will be concerned only 
to gain and hold personal advantages. Consequently, society will not remain 
in its transformed condition unless the transformation is irreversible. 

Rule (in) Once an objective has been selected, it is necessary to per¬ 
suade some small minority to commit itself to the achievement of the 
objective by means more potent than mere preaching or advocacy of ideas. 
In other words, the minority will have to organize itself for practical action. 

As pointed out in Postulate 2, the advocacy of ideas alone cannot 
change society, so some group will have to be organized for the purpose 
of applying methods more potent than mere advocacy of ideas. At least at 
the outset, this group will ordinarily include only a very small minority 
because, again by Postulate 2, prior to the application of methods more 
potent than the mere advocacy of ideas, only a very small minority can be 
persuaded to act. 

Rule (iv) In order to keep itself faithful to its objective, a radical 
movement should devise means of excluding from its ranks all unsuitable 
persons who may seek to join it. 


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This can be important, because according to Postulate 3 the admis¬ 
sion of unsuitable persons will promote the blurring or perversion of the 
movement’s objective. 

Rule (v) Once a revolutionary movement has become powerful enough 
to achieve its objective, it must achieve its objective as soon as possible, and 
in any case before the original revolutionaries (meaning those who joined 
the movement while it was still relatively weak) die or become politically 

As noted earlier, the movement will have to become very powerful 
in order to achieve its objective, therefore, by Postulate 4, it will soon be 
corrupted. Once corrupted, the movement will no longer be faithful to 
its objective, so if the objective is to be achieved at all it must be achieved 
before the movement becomes corrupt. 

II. Examination of the Postulates 

Let’s take a careful look at the postulates and ask ourselves to what 
extent they are true. 

Postulate 1. To see the truth of this postulate, we don’t need to rely on 
the opinion of the experienced activist quoted above. It should be obvious 
that vague or abstract goals can’t ordinarily serve as a basis for effective 

For example, “freedom” by itself will not serve as a goal, because 
different people have different conceptions of what constitutes freedom and 
of the relative importance of different aspects of freedom. Consequently, 
effective and consistent cooperation in pursuit of an unspecified “freedom” 
is impossible. The same is true of other vague goals like “equality,” “justice” 
or “protecting the environment.” For effective cooperation you need a clear 
and concrete goal, so that everyone involved will have approximately the 
same understanding of what the goal actually is. 

Moreover, where an objective is vague or abstract, it is too easy to 
pretend that the objective has been achieved, or that progress toward it is 
being made, when real achievements are minimal. For example, American 
politicians automatically identify “freedom” with the American way of life 
regardless of the realities of day-to-day living in this country. Anything done 
to protect so-called American interests abroad is described as “defending 

Chapter Three: Part II 


freedom,” and many Americans, probably the majority, actually accept this 

For the foregoing reasons, it is usually true that a radical movement 
cannot pursue vague or abstract goals successfully. But is it always true? 
Maybe not. Look, for example, at the American Revolution. By May 1776 
at the latest, the great majority of the American revolutionaries had accepted 
independence from Britain as their objective of highest priority. 8 This objec¬ 
tive was clear and concrete, and it was achieved. But independence was 
not the revolutionaries’ only goal: They also wanted to set up a “republi¬ 
can” government in America. 9 This was by no means a clear and concrete 
objective, since widely differing forms of government can be described as 
“republican.” Consequently, once independence had been achieved, there 
were intense disagreements among the revolutionaries over the precise form 
of the “republic” that was to be established. 10 Nevertheless, the revolu¬ 
tionaries did succeed in setting up a government that was unquestionably 
republican in form and that has lasted to the present day. 

Notice, however, that the revolutionaries did not set up a successful 
republican government until they had already won independence from 
Britain and no longer faced stiff opposition. Furthermore, they enjoyed 
certain special advantages: They had as a model a form of government— 
the English one—that was already halfway to being a republic. (Jefferson 
referred to the English constitution as a “kind of half-way house” between 
monarchy and “liberty.” 11 ) The revolutionaries shared a common heritage 
of relatively “advanced” political ideas derived from English tradition and 
from the works of Enlightenment philosophers. 12 England, moreover, had 
long been moving in the direction of representative democracy, so the 
American revolutionaries were only accelerating what was already a well 
established historical trend. And they were not accelerating it so very much, 
since the government they set up was still far from being fully democratic. 13 

In Part III of this chapter we will see other examples in which move¬ 
ments have succeeded in reaching vague or abstract goals. But we know of 
no well-defined examples of this kind in which the movement has faced 
stiff opposition and has not been favored by a pre-existing historical trend. 

It would be rash to conclude that a movement can never achieve 
vague or abstract goals against stiff opposition and without the help of a 
pre-existing historical trend. But it remains true that a movement that lacks 
a clear and concrete goal operates under a very heavy disadvantage. The 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

stronger the opposition that a movement has to face, the more important 
it is that the movement should be united and able to concentrate all its 
energy on achieving a single objective; and this requires an objective that 
is clearly defined. 

Yet, even in those situations in which the need for a clear and con¬ 
crete objective is greatest, Postulate 1 does not imply that abstract goals 
are useless. Abstract goals often play an essential role in motivating and 
justifying a movement’s concrete objective. To take a crude example, an 
aspiration for “freedom” may motivate and justify a movement that seeks 
to overthrow a dictator. 

Postulate 2 is a matter of common, everyday experience. We all 
know how useless it is to try to change people’s behavior by preaching to 
them—generally speaking. Actually there are some important exceptions 
to Postulate 2, but before we discuss those we need to point out that some 
seeming exceptions are not really exceptions at all. 

It would be a mistake, for example, to suppose that the teachings of 
Jesus Christ have been effective in guiding human behavior. It seems that 
the earliest Christians did try to live in accord with the teachings of Jesus 
(as they interpreted them), but at that stage the Christians comprised only 
a tiny minority. With the passage of years, the Christian way of life was 
progressively vitiated in proportion to the growing number of Christians, 14 
and by the time Christianity had become dominant in the Roman Empire 
few Christians still lived as those of the first century AD had done. The 
world went on as before, full of war, lust, greed, and treachery. 

What happened, of course, was that Christian doctrines were rein¬ 
terpreted to suit the convenience of the society that existed at any given 
stage of history. Thus, during the Carolingian era, when Western Europe 
hardly had a money economy, the biblical prohibition against “usury” 15 
was held to bar all lending of money at interest. 16 But this prohibition was 
relaxed when it became an obstacle to economic development, and today 
it would be a rare Christian who would claim that lending at interest was 
prohibited by his religion. Jesus himself—if we assume that the Gospels 
accurately reflect his views—was opposed to all accumulation of wealth, 17 
and the earliest Christians probably tried to live accordingly, for “as many 
as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of 
the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and 
distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” 18 But 
that didn’t last long once Christianity became widespread. 

Chapter Three: Part II 


Jesus’s dictum, “Do not kill,” was never intended to prohibit all kill¬ 
ing, but only “murder,” i.e., unjustifiable killing. 19 Christian societies ever 
since have arrived at their own definitions, to suit their own needs, of what 
constitutes an “unjustifiable” killing, just as they would have done if Jesus 
had never lived. So it does not appear that Jesus’s teaching in this regard 
has had any perceptible effect. 

For another example, take Karl Marx. As a practical revolutionary 
Marx was active only for about 12 years (1848-1852, 1864-1872), and 
was not particularly successful; 20 his role was primarily that of a theorist, 
an advocate of ideas. Yet it has sometimes been said that Marx exercised 
a decisive influence on the history of the 20th century. In reality, the 
people who exercised the decisive influence were the men of action (Lenin, 
Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Castro, etc.) who organized revolutions in the name 
of Marxism. And these men, while calling themselves Marxists, never 
hesitated to set Marx’s theories aside when “objective” circumstances made 
it advisable for them to do so. Moreover, the societies that resulted from 
their revolutions resembled the kind of society envisioned by Marx only 
insofar as they were in a general way socialistic. 

Marx did not invent socialism, nor did he originate the impulse to 
revolution. Both socialism and revolution were “in the air” in Marx’s day, 
and they weren’t in the air just because some ingenious fellow happened to 
dream them up. They were in the air because they were called forth by the 
social conditions of the time (as Marx himself would have been the first to 
insist 21 ). If Marx had never lived there would have been revolutionaries all 
the same, and they would have adopted some other socialistic thinker as 
their patron saint. In that case the terminology and the details of the theory 
would have been different but the subsequent political events probably 
would have been much the same, because those events were determined not 
by Marx’s theories but by some combination of “objective” conditions with 
the decisions of the men of action who organized the socialist revolutions. 
And the men of action, as we’ve pointed out, were guided less by Marx’s 
theories than by the practical exigencies of revolutionary work. 

Even if we assume that the political events would have been different 
without Marx, the events that did occur did not represent a fulfillment 
of Marx’s ideas, because, again, the societies that grew out of the socialist 
revolutions did not resemble anything that Marx had foreseen or desired. 
So it does not appear that Marx accomplished much through his advocacy 
of ideas. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

For similar reasons, probably very few if any of the “great thinkers” 
whose ideas supposedly influenced history ever achieved their goals, except 
where the thinkers were also men of action who were able to implement their 
own ideas (as in the case of the Prophet Mohammed, for example). Such 
thinkers, therefore, do not provide counterexamples to the principle that the 
advocacy of ideas, by itself, cannot produce important, lasting changes in 
human behavior (unless in some very small minority). Nevertheless, some 
exceptions to Postulate 2 should be noted. 

Small children are highly receptive to the teaching of their parents 
and of other adults whom they respect, and principles preached to a small 
child may guide his behavior for the rest of his life. 

Ideas that people receive may have an important, long-lasting effect 
on their behavior if the ideas are ones that many individuals can apply 
for their own personal advantage. For example, the rational methods of 
empirical science were at first preached only by a tiny minority, but those 
ideas spread and were applied throughout the world because they were 
of great practical utility to those who applied them. (Even so, scientific 
rationality is consistently applied only where it is useful to those who apply 
it. Scientific rationality is commonly set aside when the irrational is more 
useful, for example, in certain aspects of the social sciences where the goal 
is not to describe reality accurately but to provide support for an ideology 
or a worldview.) 

The power-structure of a modern society can change human behav¬ 
ior by preaching on a vast scale through the mass media with the help of 
skilled professional propagandists. Maybe a group outside the established 
power-structure could also change human behavior through propaganda 
alone, but only if the group were sufficiently rich and powerful to undertake 
a massive, sophisticated media campaign. 22 Even where human behavior 
is changed by professional propagandists, however, it is doubtful that the 
change is ever permanent. It seems that such changes are easily reversed 
when the propaganda ceases or is replaced by propaganda that promotes 
contrary ideas. Thus, the effects of Nazi propaganda in Germany, Marxist- 
Leninist propaganda in the Soviet Union, and Maoist propaganda in China 
faded rather quickly when those systems of propaganda were discontinued. 

Postulate 3. Probably every radical movement tends to some extent 
to attract persons who join it from motives that are only loosely related to 
the goals of the movement. When Earth First! was founded in the 1980s, 
its goal was simply the defense of wilderness, but it attracted numerous 

Chapter Three: Part II 


individuals of leftist type who were less interested in wilderness than in 
activism for its own sake. A good example was the late Judi Bari, who 
was a radical feminist, demonstrated against U.S. involvement in Central 
America, and participated in the pro-choice and anti-nuclear movements. 
“Eventually, she added environmentalism to her list of causes” 23 and became 
an Earth Firstler. The influx of numerous individuals of this type did lead to 
the blurring of Earth Firstl’s original mission, which became contaminated 
with “social justice” issues. 24 

Probably, however, not every radical movement is equally attractive 
to persons whose goals differ from those of the movement. Because of the 
personal risk involved, it’s not likely that an illegal and persecuted move¬ 
ment would draw many cranks and do-gooders, though on the other hand 
such a movement might be attractive to adventurers who valued danger, 
conspiracy, or violence for their own sake. Again, when a movement is 
fully absorbed in a hard struggle (legal or not) for a single, specific, clearly 
defined goal, one imagines it would attract few individuals who were not 
willing to commit themselves whole-heartedly to that goal. 

Whether this is true or not, it does seem true that even if many 
persons having varied and diffuse goals enter a movement, the movement’s 
objective does not necessarily become blurred or perverted if that objective 
is simple, concrete, and clear, and if the movement is committed to it exclu¬ 
sively. For example, it appears that most of the early feminist leaders were 
professional reformers who were interested in a variety of causes, such as 
temperance (anti-alcohol), peace (anti-war), pacifism, abolition of slavery, 
and so-called “progressive” causes generally. 25 Yet, once the feminist move¬ 
ment had become clearly focused by about 1870 on the single, overriding 
goal of woman suffrage, it seems to have remained entirely faithful to that 
goal until the goal was achieved in the 1920s. 26 

Thus, the words “tends to” and “may” that appear in the statement 
of Postulate 3 signify that the postulate does not state an inviolable law, 
but only a danger to which social movements are subject. The danger, 
however, is a serious one. 

Postulate 4. The meaning of Postulate 4 needs to be clarified: A 
movement will not necessarily be thoroughly corrupted unless it becomes 
so powerful that (i) membership in the movement entails little or no risk 
(whether of physical harm or of other negative consequences, such as drastic 
loss of social status); and (ii) the movement is able to offer its adherents such 
conventional satisfactions as money, security, positions of power, a career, or 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

social status—meaning social status not merely within the movement but in 
society at large. Even then the movement’s ideals may retain some residual 
effectiveness unless and until the movement achieves a secure position as 
the dominant force in society, after which corruption becomes complete. 

Subject to the foregoing clarification, Postulate 4 seems to be invari¬ 
ably true. People who join a radical movement while it is still relatively 
weak may have goals that diverge from those of the movement, but at least 
such people are not likely to be selfish in the conventional sense, because 
they cannot draw the conventional advantages from their membership in 
the movement. In fact, their membership may entail serious risks or sacri¬ 
fices. They may be motivated in part by a drive for power, but they seek to 
satisfy that drive through participation in a movement that they hope will 
become powerful and attain its goals. 27 There may also be struggles for 
power within the movement. But the members do not expect the safe and 
stable positions of power that are available in a movement that is already 
powerful and firmly established. 

However, once a movement can offer money, security, status, a career, 
stable positions of personal power, and similar advantages, it becomes irre¬ 
sistibly attractive to opportunists. 28 At this stage the movement will already 
have grown to be a big one with an unwieldy administrative apparatus, so 
that the exclusion of opportunists will not be a practical possibility. After 
the Bolsheviks became masters of Russia even Lenin, powerful as he was, 
was unable to exclude the droves of opportunists who joined the party, and 
according to Trotsky these people subsequently became “one of the bulwarks 
of the Stalinist party regime.” 29 Moreover, when a movement has grown 
excessively strong, even some of the formerly sincere revolutionaries may 
give in to the temptations of power. “The history of liberation heroes shows 
that when they come into office they interact with powerful groups: they 
can easily forget that they’ve been put in power by the poorest of the poor. 
They often lose their common touch, and turn against their own people.” 
(Nelson Mandela) 30 

Look at history: We know very well what happened to Christianity 
after the Church became powerful. It seems that the corruption of the 
clergy has usually been in direct proportion to the power of the Church at 
any given time. Some of the popes have actually been depraved. 31 Islam 
didn’t turn out any better. Twenty-four years after the Prophet’s death his 
son-in-law, the Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, was killed by rebels, and this 

Chapter Three: Part II 


event was followed by power-struggles and violence among the Muslims 
and a prolonged period of conflictwithin Islam. 32 Nor does the later history 
of Islam indicate that it adhered to its ideals any better than Christianity 
did. 33 The French Revolution was followed by the dictatorship of Napoleon, 
the Russian Revolution by that of Stalin. After the Mexican Revolution 
of 1910-1920, the revolutionary ideals were progressively drained of their 
content until Mexico found itself under the dictatorship of a party that 
continued to call itself “revolutionary” without being so in reality. 34 
The sociologist Eric Hoffer wrote: 

Hitler, who had a clear vision of the whole course of a movement 
even while he was nursing his infant National Socialism, warned 
that a movement retains its vigor only so long as it can offer nothing 
in the present.... 35 

According to Hitler, the more ‘posts and offices a movement has to 
hand out, the more inferior stuff it will attract, and in the end these 
political hangers-on overwhelm a successful party in such number 
that the honest fighter of former days no longer recognizes the old 
movement.... When this happens, the “mission” of such a movement 
is done for.’ 36 

In March 1949, when the Communists were on the verge of final victory 
in China, Mao warned: 

With victory, certain moods may grow within the Party—arrogance, 
the airs of a self-styled hero, inertia and unwillingness to make prog¬ 
ress, love of pleasure and distaste for continued hard living.... The 
comrades must be helped to remain modest, prudent, and free from 
arrogance and rashness in their style of work. The comrades must 
be helped to preserve the style of plain living and hard struggle. 37 

Needless to say, Mao’s warning was futile. Already in 1957 he complained: 

A dangerous tendency has shown itself of late among many of our 
personnel—an unwillingness to share the joys and hardships of the 
masses, a concern for personal fame and gain. 38 


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Today the Communist regime in China is notorious for its corruption: 
Not only are Party members and government officials concerned more with 
their own careers than they are with Communist ideals; 39 what is worse, 
the regime is pervaded by out-and-out criminal dishonesty. 40 

Shortly before the end of the American War of Independence, 
Thomas Jefferson wrote: 

It can never be too often repeated that the time for fixing every essen¬ 
tial right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest and ourselves 

united. From the conclusion of this war, we shall be going downhill. 41 

In fact, soon after the end of the war, quarreling and disunity broke 
out among the thirteen states to such an extent that the new nation seemed 
on the point of breaking up. 42 By creating the Constitution of 1787 the 
revolutionaries succeeded in saving the Union, but the passage in 1798 
of the anti-libertarian Alien and Sedition Acts 43 suggests a weakening 
of commitment to the ideals of the Revolution even among some of the 
old revolutionaries, and by the time most of the original revolutionaries 
were dead not much idealism, or even integrity, seems to have been left 
in American politics. 44 One has to ask why the United States did not go 
the way of most Latin American countries and fall under the control of a 
dictator or an oligarchy. One part of any answer to this question should 
be that before the Revolution the American colonists, like their English 
cousins, had already been long habituated to a semi-democratic form of 
government, hence would not have been likely to create or tolerate a highly 
authoritarian regime. 

III. Examination of the Rules 

Because the rules are directly derived from the postulates, our dis¬ 
cussion of the rules is in some ways merely an extension or elaboration of 
the foregoing discussion of the postulates. 

Rule (i) asserts that a movement needs a single, clear, simple, and 
concrete objective. 

The story of the so-called civil society movement in Mexico shows 
what typically happens to a movement that flagrantly violates Rule (i). The 
civil society movement originated in 1985, and its goals were to oppose 
“concentrated, centralized power” 45 and to fight “for human rights, civil 

Chapter Three: Part III 


rights, political reform and social justice against the domination of the 
one-party state.” 46 Thus the movement favored decentralization and “a 
redistribution of power,” 47 and “tended to take the side of the underdog, to 
side with peasants and workers, poor people and Indians.” 48 

Obviously the civil society movement did not have a single, clear, con¬ 
crete goal. 49 Some sectors of the movement did adopt single, clear, concrete 
goals. Forexample, the Mexican anti-nuclearmovementwas part of the civil 
society movement, 50 and its single goal was to prevent the development of 
nuclear energy in Mexico. It was not completely successful in achieving this, 
since one nuclear power-plant was put into operation in Mexico. However, 
“the anti-nuclear movement had really won on the question of Mexico’s 
nuclear future,” because Mexico’s ruling party “abandoned its ambitious 
plans for a dozen or more nuclear reactors.” 51 

But who hears of the civil society movement today (in 2013), twenty- 
eight years after it arose? The movement seems to have petered out without 
having made any significant progress toward the general goals stated 
above. The election in 2000 as president of Mexico of Vicente Fox of 
the “conservative” (read “authoritarian”) PAN party may have seemed to 
end the “domination of the one-party state” by breaking the PRI party’s 
monopoly of power, but many of the PRI technocrats had actually wanted 
“some sort of power-sharing arrangement with the PAN,” so that Mexico 
would no longer appear to be a one-party state yet would remain effectively 
under technocratic control. 52 The technocrats’ power-sharing arrangement 
seems to be working out very nicely: The PAN held the presidency for two 
six-year terms (2000-2012), and the PRI is now (2013) back in power. It 
could be said that there has been a “redistribution of power” in Mexico; 
as of 2008-2010: 

In much of the country [drug gangs are] more powerful than the 
government itself. Mexico’s three main drug cartels are effectively 
in control of the country’s Pacific Coast, industrial heartland, and 
tourist havens of the Gulf Coast. .. ,[T]he gangs... don’t hesitate to 
kill the politicians, cops, and journalists they can’tbribe or intimidate. 
...Yet they are folk heroes to many poor Mexicans.... [The gangs’] 
ranks now include many members of Mexico’s elite special forces. At 
the same time, the gangs have infiltrated much of Mexico’s power 
structure. .. .They have corrupted every level of government, from 
local policemen to army generals to presidential aides. 53 


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There are indications that Mexico’s government is now (2013) gaining 
the upper hand over the drug gangs. 54 But even if the gangs were to retain 
their power indefinitely, that would hardly be the kind of “redistribution 
of power” that the initiators of the civil society movement had in mind. 
Thus, while some sectors of the movement may have achieved their specific 
goals, the movement as a whole has been a failure. 

In England and the United States during the first two thirds of the 
19th century, the goal of feminists was to make women equal to men in 
terms of power, dignity, and opportunities within society. Since this goal is 
a vague and general one, it’s not surprising that these early feminists didn’t 
accomplish much. 55 But, as we saw earlier, by roughly 1870 feminists had 
settled on a single, clear, simple, and concrete objective: to secure for women 
the right to vote. 56 Perhaps because they realized that it was the key that 
would open the door to power for women and enable them to reach other 
goals, woman suffrage was the objective on which feminists concentrated 
their efforts until that objective was achieved in the 1920s. 

Since the 1920s the feminist movement has had no single, clear, 
concrete objective. The movement has splintered into various factions 
that pursue diverse objectives and are often in conflict with one another. 57 
Nevertheless, Rule (i) notwithstanding, feminists have continued to make 
steady progress toward their general goal—to make women equal to men in 
power, dignity, and opportunities. 58 However, the feminists have had certain 
critically important advantages that have offset their neglect of Rule (i). 

First, the achievement of the earlier feminists’ well-chosen central 
objective—the right to vote—has given women collective power: No pol¬ 
itician who hopes to win an election can afford to ignore women’s wants. 
More importantly, the tide of history has been working in the feminists’ 
favor. Ever since the onset of the Industrial Revolution there has been a 
powerful trend toward “equality”—meaning the elimination of all distinc¬ 
tions between individuals other than those distinctions that are demanded 
by the needs of the technological system. Thus, a mathematician is to be 
evaluated in terms of his/her mathematical talent, a mechanic in terms 
of his/her knowledge of engines, a factory manager in terms of his/her 
ability to run a factory, and with the passage of time it has increasingly 
been expected that the religion, social class, race, gender, etc., etc. of the 
mathematician, the mechanic, and the manager are to be treated as irrele¬ 
vant. Because the feminists’ goal of equality has been in harmony with this 
historical trend, opposition to feminism has steadily declined over time, 

Chapter Three: Part III 


and from 1975 at the latest the media and the cultural and political climate 
have been overwhelmingly favorable to gender equality. 

A comparison of post-1945 British and American feminism with the 
Mexican civil society movement provides an illustration of the principle that 
the stronger the opposition a movement has to face, the more important it 
is that the movement should concentrate all its energy on a single, clearly 
defined objective. The feminists have made steady progress toward their 
vague goal of gender equality, in part because they have faced no very 
serious opposition since the middle of the 20th century. But the Mexican 
civil society movement has faced very tough opposition from politicians 
and technocrats unwilling to relinquish their power, and the movement 
has therefore been doomed by its failure to concentrate on a single, clear, 
concrete objective. 

In connection with Rule (i) it is also instructive to look at the history 
of Ireland. From at least 1711 until the 1880s, there was chronic rural 
unrest in Ireland due to the wretched conditions in which Irish peasants 
had to live. 59 In 1798 there was an attempt at violent revolution, but it 
failed miserably, in large part because it was unorganized, undisciplined, 
and lacked a clear objective. 60 

The Irish began to make progress only with the advent of Daniel 
O’Connell. O’Connell was a political genius and a spellbinding orator, 61 
but unlike many other political geniuses he was a sincere patriot who had 
genuinely dedicated himself to the welfare of his country. O’Connell’s 
ultimate objective was “the improvement of the lot of the Irish common 
people.” 62 As a step toward this vague and general goal, O’Connell set 
himself a clear and concrete objective, namely, “Catholic Emancipation,” 63 
which meant repeal of the laws that subjected Irish Catholics to certain 
political disabilities (for example, they were not allowed to become judges 
or members of Parliament). 64 Catholic Emancipation would directly benefit 
only a small minority who could hope to occupy important offices or be 
elected to Parliament, but it would indirectly benefit the overwhelmingly 
Catholic peasants of Ireland inasmuch as it would give them representation 
in Parliament and (more importantly) prove that they could prevail over 
the British government through collective action. 65 

O’Connell created an amazingly well-organized and well-disciplined 
movement dedicated to the specific goal of Catholic Emancipation, and that 
goal was achieved within about six years. 66 Catholic Emancipation undoubt¬ 
edly would have occurred eventually anyway, since it was a development 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

that was guaranteed by the same historical trend toward “equality” that 
favored the feminist movement. But, without O’Connell and his organi¬ 
zation, Catholic Emancipation probably would have been delayed for some 
years, for when Emancipation was granted in 1829 it was granted grudg¬ 
ingly, 67 and it very likely would not have been granted at that time at all if 
O’Connell had not played skillfully upon the government’s fear of another 
violent uprising like that of 1798. 68 (It is worth noting, therefore, that the 
1798 rebellion, even though it was ruthlessly crushed, was not in vain.) 

Needless to say, excellent organization in pursuit of a single, clear, 
simple, and concrete objective does not guarantee success. In 1840, 
O’Connell founded a Repeal Association for the purpose of securing the 
repeal of the Act of Union that placed England and Ireland under a single 
Parliament. The objective was not to separate Ireland from England but to 
create a specifically Irish Parliament, while Ireland would remain united 
with England under a single sovereign. 69 Again O’Connell built a highly 
disciplined movement that had broad support among the Irish people, but 
this time he failed to achieve his objective, for the British government and 
Parliament remained obdurate, and the Act of Union was not repealed. 70 

A contributing factor in the failure of O’Connell’s Repeal Association 
was the Great Potato Famine of 1846-49. When peasants were starving to 
death in droves, O’Connell’s political goal seemed irrelevant to them. 71 In 
1847, during the famine, a faction within the Repeal Association formed 
a new organization called the Irish Confederation. 72 The new group soon 
recognized that it needed some specific goal, 73 but apparently was unable 
to agree on one until the revolutions of 1848 broke out on the European 
continent. Inspired by these events, the Irish Confederation adopted violent 
revolution as its goal, presumably for the purpose of making Ireland inde¬ 
pendent of Britain. 74 That same year an uprising attempted by the radicals 
failed, in part because of the radicals’ incompetence, but even more because 
they had no popular support. The common people were concerned only with 
their own immediate material welfare, or indeed with their very survival, 
and had little interest in the Confederation’s nationalism. 75 

By 1856, a leader named James Stephens (a survivor of the 1848 
uprising) had definitely settled on the clear, concrete objective of total 
political independence for Ireland. 76 Independence was to be followed by 
the establishment of a “republic,” 77 but the imprecision of this second goal 
was perhaps not very important, because a republic would not be estab¬ 
lished until independence had been achieved. Thus, the imprecise goal of 

Chapter Three: Part III 


founding a republic would not necessarily interfere with efforts toward the 
clear and specific goal of independence. (Compare the case of the American 
revolutionaries, discussed above.) 

Stephens, a brilliant organizer, created a powerful revolutionary 
movement 78 that in 1867 attempted an uprising for the purpose of separating 
Ireland from Britain. For reasons not relevant to the present discussion, 
the uprising failed ignominiously. 79 But from that time until 1916 the aspi¬ 
ration for total independence from Britain was kept alive by a minuscule 
minority of extreme nationalists who had virtually no support among the 
general population of Ireland. 80 Irish peasants at first were concerned only 
to secure relief from the oppression of the landlords, and had no interest in 
nationalist ideals. Eventual relief of the peasants’ suffering was guaranteed 
by the general liberalizing trend of Western civilization, but the process 
was accelerated by the efforts of Parnell and Gladstone, 81 so that the con¬ 
dition of the peasants was alleviated step by step until by 1910 at the latest 
they no longer had any grievance serious enough to provide a motive for 
radical action. 82 

Thus, by the second decade of the 20th century, the Irish no longer 
had any plausible reason to separate themselves from Britain, nor did such a 
separation have the appearance of a historical inevitability. Nevertheless, the 
extremists’ stubborn persistence in adhering to their goal of total indepen¬ 
dence did pay off in the end. It is a remarkable fact that between 1916 and 
1921 the tiny minority of extreme nationalists, who at first lacked signifi¬ 
cant support, were able to swing the majority of the Irish population over to 
their side. Through terroristic tactics and guerrilla warfare, the nationalists 
provoked the British government to harsh countermeasures that alienated 
the Irish masses and drove them into the arms of the revolutionaries. 83 The 
result was not immediate and complete independence for Ireland. The mil¬ 
itary situation forced the revolutionaries to stop (temporarily) just short of 
their goal by accepting “dominion status”; that is, a relationship to Britain 
similar to that of Canada. 84 This made Ireland practically an independent 
country with ties to Britain that were little more than symbolic; and even 
so the revolutionaries never regarded the settlement as final, but only as 
a stepping stone to the total independence that was to be reached later. 85 

Nevertheless, a powerful faction of the nationalist movement, under 
the political leadership of Eamon de Valera, refused to accept dominion 
status and was suppressed only through a brief but bloody civil war. 86 A 
remnant of the dissident faction continued to exist, but most of it was 


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subsequently integrated as a normal component of Ireland’s parliamentary 
system. 87 De Valera was for many years the Prime Minister of Ireland, and 
by 1949 at the latest had made his country totally independent of Britain— 
with the ready acquiescence of the British themselves. 88 

Thus, in the end, the extreme Irish nationalists did achieve the one 
clear, simple, concrete goal that for many decades had been the center of 
their aspirations. 89 It was moreover a goal that probably would never have 
been reached without the nationalists’ efforts, for, as noted earlier, there 
was no apparent historical reason why Ireland had to become independent 90 
(unless the reason was the existence of the nationalists themselves). 

Independence was unmistakably the extreme nationalists’ dominant 
goal until it was very nearly achieved with dominion status in 1922. But 
what about the nationalists’ other goals? It can probably be said of each 
of their other goals that either the goal would have been reached anyway 
through the operation of general historical trends and without any effort 
on the part of the nationalists; or the achievement of the goal was merely 
symbolic; or else the goal was achieved only in an incomplete form that 
would have been unsatisfactory to the original revolutionaries. 

One goal of the 19th-century Irish revolutionaries was the relief of 
the peasants’ misery, and the revolutionaries may have hastened the achieve¬ 
ment of this goal insofar as the British fear of revolutionary violence made 
the task of reformers like Parnell easier. 91 But, as we’ve already pointed 
out, the eventual relief of the peasants’ misery was guaranteed anyway by 
a pre-existing historical trend that prevailed throughout Western Europe. 

Another goal of the extreme nationalists was the establishment of 
a “republic.” This goal was a vague one since, as we mentioned in con¬ 
nection with the American Revolution, a wide variety of states can be 
called “republics.” Constitutional monarchies such as Britain, Spain, or 
the Netherlands are not technically republics, but in practical terms their 
systems differ little from those of undoubted republics like France or the 
United States. When Ireland was officially declared a republic in 1949, 
little was changed; 92 “republic” was hardly more than a word or a symbol. 93 
If the term “republic” were taken to mean “representative democracy,” we 
would say that Ireland was already a republic in substance long before it 
became one officially. And, once the goal of independence was reached, 
Ireland would have become a representative democracy anyway through 
the operation of pre-existing historical trends, just as every other country 
in Western Europe has become a representative democracy. And it is not 

Chapter Three: Part III 


certain that Ireland has become a republic in a sense that would have sat¬ 
isfied the original revolutionaries, for at least some of these seem to have 
had something more socialistic in mind. 94 

In addition, the revolutionaries wanted to avoid “Anglicization” of 
Ireland and preserve Irish language and culture. 95 In this it can’t be said that 
the revolutionaries failed completely, but their success has been unimpressive 
at best. Irish Gaelic today is the first language of only a small fraction of 
the Irish population. Though it is taught in the schools and is “more widely 
read, spoken, and understood [as of 2003] than during most of the 20th 
century,” 96 it seems unlikely that the majority of modern Irish people are 
fluent in Gaelic; for, among people who learn a language only in school, 
no more than a small minority ever become fluent in it. Ireland is basically 
an English-speaking country, from which it follows that Ireland must be 
subject to considerable cultural influence from other English-speaking 
countries. Whether or not it is accurate to speak of an “Anglicization” of 
Ireland, there can be no doubt that Ireland (with the possible exception of 
a few isolated areas that may not yet be fully modernized) has undergone 
the same cultural homogenization that has occurred in the rest of Western 
Europe, and in all probability modern Ireland differs culturally from other 
Western European countries no more than these countries differ among 
themselves. It may well be that traditional arts, crafts, music, etc. are now 
practiced in Ireland more than they would have been without the efforts 
of the nationalists, but it is certain that the basic culture of Ireland today 
is the universal culture of modern industrial society. It follows that tradi¬ 
tional arts and crafts can be no more than gimmicks that serve to entertain 
tourists or to give the Irish themselves an illusion of temporary escape from 
the modern world. 

Would this degree of linguistic and cultural preservation have sat¬ 
isfied the revolutionaries of the 19th and early 20th centuries? Probably 
not. “Few Irishmen today would accept that what Irish nationalists have 
achieved represents a true fulfillment of that near-mystical ideal for which, 
in one form or another, Irishmen had striven for so long.” 97 

Thus, while it can’t be said that the Irish revolutionaries achieved 
no success at all in other areas, their one unmistakable and complete suc¬ 
cess was in reaching the single, clear, simple, and concrete goal that had 
been their main objective for several decades: to make Ireland politically 
independent of Britain. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

The examples of feminism and Irish nationalism (among others) show 
that Rule (i) cannot correctly be understood to mean that no social move¬ 
ment can ever achieve any success at all without concentrating exclusively 
on a single, clear, simple, concrete objective. But these and other examples 
that we’ve looked at do support the proposition that every movement that 
hopes to achieve something had better give careful consideration to Rule 
(i) and should deviate from the rule only if there is a definite, strong, and 
convincing reason for doing so. 

Rule (a) states that if a movement aspires to transform a society, then 
the objective selected by the movement must be of such a nature that the 
social changes wrought by the achievement of the objective will be irre¬ 
versible—meaning that the changes will survive even without any further 
effort on the part of the movement or anyone else. The reason is that the 
movement, once in power, will become “corrupt”; i.e., will no longer be 
faithful to its earlier goals and ideals. 

For example, the feminists’ achievement of woman suffrage is irre¬ 
versible because (among other reasons) now that women have the right to 
vote, it cannot be taken away from them through democratic processes 
without the consent of most women—consent that they would hardly be 
likely to give even in the absence of an effective and uncorrupted feminist 
movement. Of course, the feminists’ achievement is not irreversible in any 
absolute sense. Women could lose the right to vote in the event of some 
sweeping transformation of society, such as an end of the democratic form 
of government. 

The theocratic republic set up in Geneva by Calvin 98 provides a prob¬ 
able example in which a movement achieved its objective and the associated 
social changes were later reversed due to corruption of the movement. What 
seems to happen more often, though, is that a movement becomes corrupt 
before it reaches its objective, so that the objective is never fully achieved 
in the first place. Thus, in Russia, the Bolshevik/Communist movement 
was corrupted while the construction of a socialist society was still in its 
early stages, so that the kind of socialist society envisioned by the original 
Bolsheviks was never attained. 99 The French Revolution was corrupted 
before it even came close to creating the type of society envisioned by any 
of the revolutionary factions. 

This writer is not aware of even one unarguable example in which a 
revolutionary movement has concentrated its efforts on a single ., clear ; simple. 

Chapter Three: Part III 


concrete objective (as required by Rule (i)) and has achieved the objective, and 
the achievement has subsequently been reversed due to corruption of the 
movement. Once a clear, simple, concrete objective has been achieved, its 
achievement no doubt is less easily reversed than that of a vague or complex 
objective, because its reversal would be too obvious, too hard to disguise. 
This is another reason why a movement should obey Rule (i). 

The establishment of a democratic government is not a very clear and 
precise objective, because there are considerable differences among the vari¬ 
ous kinds of government that today are called “democratic.” But democratic 
government is at least a much clearer objective than such vague goals as 
“freedom,” “equality,” “justice,” “socialism,” or “protecting the environment.” 
From the history of many countries scattered around the world we know 
how reversible the achievement of democracy can be. The overthrow of a 
democratic government through a military coup was once such a common 
event in Latin America and Africa that news of such a coup hardly raised 
an eyebrow in Western Europe or the United States. A military coup usu¬ 
ally represents not the corruption of democracy but a victory of those who 
never wanted democracy in the first place. But the death of a democracy 
through corruption (in our sense of the word) has probably been even more 
common than the military coup, and when this happens the external forms 
of democracy often are retained even while an individual or an oligarchy 
takes effective control of the country. We’ve seen this in Russia since the 
breakup of the Soviet Union: Vladimir Putin was originally a protege of 
Boris Yeltsin, the great champion of Russian democracy, and Russia still 
retains all the usual apparatus of parliamentary democracy. Yet it is said 
that Putin is now almost a dictator. 100 

In Latin America, democracy has routinely been corrupted. A group 
of Argentine scholars presents the following example as typical: 

The center of gravity of control passed softly and silently from the 
State to a restricted economic and social apparatus (inside groups) 
that constituted a privileged system of enrichment. The acquisition 
of a license for importation or for exchange made more men rich in 
less time than any other activity, including speculation in land. This 
is how the families dominant in the financial sector entered political 
channels.... There occurred a metamorphosis of the ‘group of fam¬ 
ilies,’ which, incidentally allied for the purpose of negotiating with 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

the State... turned into a stable, indissolubly united oligarchy for the 

organisms of political activity... in the parties, in the government... 

and in order to establish a system of privilege. 101 

A democratic government can easily be subverted because it is a 
complicated mechanism and the concept of “democracy” itself is far from 
precise, so that subtle or covert changes can accumulate over time until one 
day people wake up to find that their country is no longer a functioning 
democracy. Compare democracy with the clear and simple achievements 
of the feminists and the Irish nationalists—the right to vote and political 
independence for Ireland, respectively. Because of the clarity and simplicity 
of these achievements, they could not easily be undermined covertly. Note, 
however, that while impairment of Ireland’s formal political independence 
would be obvious, Ireland could become dependent on Britain economically 
or in some other way. 

Though the establishment of democratic government has so often 
been a reversible social change, it cannot be said that democratization per se 
is reversible. Whether it is reversible or irreversible in a given case depends 
on the culture and history of the country in which the democratic gov¬ 
ernment is set up, and on the international situation in which the country 
finds itself. The more or less democratic system set up by the American 
revolutionaries survived despite the fading of revolutionary idealism, in 
part because the American colonists had already been long habituated to a 
semi-democratic form of government. Today in Latin America functioning 
democratic governments seem to have a better chance of success than they 
did a few decades ago, probably because the cultural and economic changes 
associated with modernization have raised the level of social discipline in 
those countries. Another factor to be considered is that the international 
climate has become more unfavorable to obvious dictatorships (by an indi¬ 
vidual or by a party), and nations are now under pressure to maintain at 
least the appearance of democracy. In Africa, for example, international aid 
organizations left The Gambia after a military coup in 1994 but resumed 
assistance to that country following its return to democratic forms; 102 assis¬ 
tance to Tanzania from the International Monetary Fund apparently was 
conditioned on political reforms in 1986; 103 in Kenya, “Western financial 
aid came to be tied to demands for political and economic reforms,” so that 
in 1991 there was a “constitutional amendment that reinstated multiparty 
elections.” 104 On the other hand, it must seriously be doubted whether 

Chapter Three: Part III 


democracy is a functioning reality in those countries. Kenya, 105 at least, is 
not a democracy in the sense in which that term is understood in Western 
Europe and the United States. 

As the foregoing discussion indicates, the problem of predicting 
whether a social change will be reversible or irreversible in a given case 
can be subtle and difficult. Consequently, Rule (ii) may often be hard to 
apply in practice. Rule (ii) is important nevertheless. The essential point of 
the rule is that a movement builds its foundation on quicksand if it bases its 
strategy on the assumption that faithfulness to the movement’s ideals will 
be sustained indefinitely and independently of the immediate self-interest 
of the people who are in positions of power. What a nascent movement 
needs to ask itself in choosing its objective is whether the resulting social 
changes, once achieved, will survive in an atmosphere in which people are 
motivated more by short-term self-interest than by dedication to ideals— 
which indeed is the normal atmosphere in any society. Even though this 
question may often be difficult to answer with any degree of confidence, 
it needs to be asked and considered carefully. 

Rule (iii) states that once an objective has been selected, some small 
minority must undertake organization for practical action (as opposed to 
mere preaching or advocacy of ideas) in the service of the objective. Three 
points must be noted, however: 

First, while ideas by themselves will not transform a society, the devel¬ 
opment and propagation of ideas must be a part of any rational effort to 
transform a society. Without some organized set of ideas to guide its action, 
a movement will flounder aimlessly. It may generate more or less uproar, but 
if it accomplishes anything more than that it will do so merely through luck. 

The Whiteboy Movement of 18th-century Ireland consisted of 
guerrilla-like peasant bands that roamed the countryside at night taking 
revenge on the landlords and on those peasants who were too ready to 
cooperate with the landlords. 106 But the members of these bands were 
uneducated men whose limited ideas did not enable them to envision 
anything beyond resistance to specific local abuses. 107 Only in the 1790s, 
with the arrival of ideas from revolutionary France, did the Irish peasant 
rebels begin to acquire some notion of changing society. 108 At the time of 
the attempted revolution of 1798 their ideas in this direction were still too 
confused to provide them with a clear objective, 109 and their lack of a clear 
objective was probably a contributing factor in their defeat. 110 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Contrast the Irish peasants of 1798 with the workers of Saint 
Petersburgwho revolted in February 1917: These workers had already been 
indoctrinated with Marxist ideas by the Bolsheviks, consequently their 
insurrection was purposeful and successful. 111 

Second, while both ideas and organization for practical action are 
necessary components of any rational and successful effort to change a 
society, the people who organize for practical action need not be the same 
individuals as the theorists who develop and propagate the ideas. In Ireland, 
again, nationalist ideas and the aspiration for independence from Britain 
were already well developed among the extremist minority prior to the 
advent of Michael Collins in 1917. 112 Collins does not seem to have been a 
theorist, but it was he who organized the successful guerrilla war that led 
to Ireland’s independence in 1922. 113 

However, for theorists who do not themselves organize for practical 
action, there is a grave danger: The men of action who do organize, pur¬ 
portedly in the service of the theorists’ ideas, may reinterpret or distort the 
ideas so that the results are very different from what the theorists envisioned. 
Martin Luther was appalled at the social rebellion that his ideas called 
forth, 114 and we’ve already pointed out that Marxist revolutionaries like 
Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, and Castro deviated from Marx’s ideas when¬ 
ever they found it convenient to do so. Here again we see the importance 
of Rule (i), that is, of the need to select a clear, simple, concrete objective: 
Neither Marx nor Luther formulated such an objective, and because their 
ideas were complex their ideas could easily be misunderstood or distorted. 
In contrast, by the time Michael Collins assumed leadership of the Irish 
nationalist movement, the nationalists had already settled on total political 
independence from Britain as their central objective—an objective of such 
clarity and simplicity that it could hardly be misunderstood or distorted. 

Third, preaching, or the advocacy of ideas, is by far the easier part of 
an effort to change a society; organizing for practical action is vastly more 
difficult. This at least is true today; it may not always have been true in 
the past. 

Martin Luther was an intellectual leader, but he was not a man 
of action: He even declined to try to carry out the “institutional church 
reforms” that he himself had called for. 115 Yet his preaching and his daring 
theological ideas aroused tremendous ferment, as a result of which armies 
were organized and wars fought. 116 It appears that organization for prac¬ 
tical action occurred quickly and easily once Luther’s ideas became widely 

Chapter Three: Part III 


known. In those days the educated sector of society was relatively tiny, 
and the expression of dissident ideas could entail considerable personal 
risk. (Luther’s forerunner Jan Hus was burned at the stake for his ideas. 117 ) 
Consequently, newideas were a scarce commodity, and intense dissatisfac¬ 
tions could long fester unarticulated for lack of anyone to articulate them. 
A thinker who was bold enough to express dissent publicly and able to do 
so eloquently might trigger a release of pent-up resentments. When this 
occurred it was probably much easier to organize a rebellion in those days 
than it is now, because people were much less effectively conditioned to 
obedience, docility, and passivity than they are today. In fact, by modern 
standards the people of Luther’s time were lawless. 118 

Nowadays, however, there is a surfeit of ideas, including dissident 
and even outrageous ones. Artists and writers strive to outdo one another 
in thumbing their noses at conventional values. Consequently new ideas, 
however outrageous, evoke a yawn from many people, from others only 
an expression of irritation, and serve the remainder of the population as 
mere entertainment. To their contemporaries, the ideas of men like Hus 
and Luther suggested the possible opening of a new era, but no ideas do 
that today because new ideas are so commonplace that no one takes them 
seriously any more. Except, of course, technological ideas. 

At present, organization for practical action is more difficult not only 
because new ideas no longer evoke a strong response, but also because of 
people’s docility, passivity, and “learned helplessness.” 119 Professional polit¬ 
ical operatives do exploit people’s discontents to organize support for their 
parties, candidates, or movements, but this only makes the task of orga¬ 
nization more difficult for amateurs, who are poorly equipped to compete 
with skilled professionals for people’s attention and commitment. 

Thus, whatever may have been the case in the past, in the modern 
world the critical challenge for anyone wishing to transform society is not 
the propagation of ideas, but organization for practical action. 

Rule (tv) states that in order to keep itself faithful to its objective, a 
movement should devise means of excluding all unsuitable persons who 
may seek to join it. 

It is difficult to examine this rule in the light of historical exam¬ 
ples, because very little relevant information seems to be available in the 
histories of past movements. 120 Hardly any evidence known to this writer 
suggests that past movements had explicit policies designed to exclude 
unsuitable persons, but probably many movements have had informal or 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

even unconscious means of excluding persons perceived as unsuitable. For 
example, such persons might simply have been given the cold shoulder at 
meetings. But one may doubt the effectiveness of such unsystematic ways 
of keeping a movement “pure.” 

Prior to their seizure of power in October 1917, the Bolsheviks prob¬ 
ably were highly selective in accepting new members, since Lenin was 
“always extremely sensitive to the question of the ingredients of the party.” 121 
This selectiveness may have played an important role in the success of the 
Bolsheviks as a revolutionary party. (As we saw in discussing Postulate 4 
above, once the Bolsheviks/Communists were in power, it proved impossible 
to screen out the droves of opportunists who sought to join them.) 

In the years preceding the Communist victory in China, Mao repeat¬ 
edly referred to the problem of weeding out the “careerists,” “saboteurs,” 
“degenerates,” “undesirables,” and “traitors” who “sneaked” into the Party. 122 
But nowhere in the Selected Readings from his works does Mao explain what 
he means by “saboteurs,” “degenerates,” etc., nor does he tell us how these 
individuals are to be identified and excluded. 

In 1841 there was an attempt to set up a utopian community at Brook 
Farm in Massachusetts. Though the community was linked with the dis¬ 
tinguished intellectuals of the Transcendental Club it failed within a few 
years, 123 perhaps in part because it was joined by too many of “the conceited, 
the crotchety, the selfish, the headstrong, the pugnacious, the unappreci¬ 
ated, the played-out, the idle, the good-for-nothing generally; who, finding 
themselves utterly out of place and at a discount in the world as it is, rashly 
concluded that they are exactly fitted for the world as it ought to be.” 124 
It has been suggested that the Brook Farm experiment would have had a 
better chance of success if “standards of recruitment” had been applied. 125 

The fact that the 19th-century feminist movement lent its support 
to Victoria Woodhull, who was a spiritualist charlatan and an advocate 
of a crackpot variety of socialism, 126 suggests that the movement may not 
have been highly selective in accepting participants. If that is true, then the 
movement may have been saved by its focus on the single goal of woman 
suffrage. As was mentioned in the discussion of Postulate 3, if a movement’s 
goal is clear, simple, and concrete, the goal perhaps will not be so easily 
blurred or perverted by unsuitable persons who join the movement. 

In relation to Rule (iv) there is also the question of where to draw 
the boundary of the “movement” from which unsuitable persons are to be 
excluded. If a movement has an inner circle and an outer circle, and if the 

Chapter Three: Part III 


inner circle maintains firm control over the outer circle, then exclusion of 
unsuitable persons from the inner circle maybe sufficient even if all comers 
are admitted to the outer circle. 

It’s very probable that the Irish patriot Daniel O’Connell had his 
movement for Catholic Emancipation firmly under his own personal control 
for the six years of its existence, 127 1823-29. But whatever may have been 
the degree of O’Connell’s personal control over it, his superbly organized 
and highly disciplined 128 movement must have been governed by some 
limited inner circle that presumably was kept “pure” through formal or 
informal selectiveness in recruitment. Recruitment to the outer circle of 
the movement was indiscriminate—anyone could join by paying mini¬ 
mal dues 129 —but the controlling inner circle evidently kept the movement 
faithful to its objective. 

Referring to the period about 1908-1912, the historian writes of the 
extreme Irish nationalist movement: 

Sinn Fein...[was] a rallying point for all radical, dissatisfied and 
potentially disappointed individual nationalists in Ireland. The hybrid 
nature of its support with an overlap of poets, eccentrics, members 
of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, politically-minded Gaelic 
Leaguers and frustrated parliamentarians had been the movement’s 
chief characteristic. Many lone wolves with a romantic or otherwise 
obsessional love of Ireland that had been born of Irish history, but 
frustrated in the present, gravitated towards Sinn Fein. As with every 
movement that attracts rebels there were those who [were impelled 
by] obscure psychological motives of their own. 130 

Evidently, then, any Irishman “opposed to British rule in Ireland” 131 
could participate in Sinn Fein, and like many other radical movements it 
attracted a motley assortment of oddballs. But it is possible to identify with 
a reasonable degree of confidence the factors that rescued the movement 
from impotence. First, the movement was focused on the single, clear, 
simple, concrete objective of total political independence for Ireland, 132 
and, as noted earlier, such an objective is not as easily perverted as a more 
diffuse one. Moreover, beginning in 1917, Michael Collins with a limited 
inner circle of collaborators progressively took over effective control of 
the movement, 133 and the inner circle, because it was relatively small, was 
probably easy to keep “pure” (i.e., faithful to the movement’s objective) even 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

without formal standards of recruitment. It’s true that Collins and his inner 
circle were by no means able to control in detail the actions of their guerrilla 
fighters, 134 but involvement in a guerrilla war was itself a powerful factor 
in keeping the movement faithful to its objective. If a movement is locked 
in a desperate struggle, that fact will tend strongly to unite the movement 
behind its leaders and behind its principal objective. 135 

In summary, this writer has found very little evidence concerning any 
formal or informal, conscious or unconscious means that may have been 
used to exclude unsuitable persons from radical movements of the past. It 
is clear, however, that the kinds of people who join a movement necessarily 
have a profound effect on its character and can blur or change its goals. 
If some of the movements we’ve looked at have remained faithful to their 
goals without any premeditated effort to exclude unsuitable persons, then 
they’ve been lucky. A nascent movement that is not content to depend on 
luck needs to give close attention to the question of the kinds of people 
who are to comprise the movement. 

Rule (v) states that once a revolutionary movement has become 
powerful enough to achieve its objective it must achieve its objective soon 
thereafter, before the movement is corrupted (as Postulate 4 affirms it 
will be). 

As noted in the discussion of Postulate 4, this writer has found no 
exception to the law that when a radical movement grows too powerful it 
is soon corrupted; that is, it ceases to be faithful to its original goals and 
ideals. From this law the importance of Rule (v) is obvious. It will never¬ 
theless be instructive to see how Rule (v) relates to some of the examples 
we’ve looked at. 

In Russia, the kind of socialism envisioned by the revolutionaries 
could not have been built within any brief period. Consequently, as pointed 
out in the discussion of Rule (ii), the construction of a socialist society 
was still in its early stages when the Bolshevik/Communist movement 
was corrupted, with the result that socialism as conceived by the original 
Bolsheviks was never achieved at all. 

It seems that democratization movements in any country, once they’ve 
achieved power, usually set up representative democracies soon thereafter. 
(Whether these democracies survive is another question, as we’ve seen.) 
Butthe French revolutionaries of the 1790s were unable to set up a properly 
functioning democratic government promptly. The exact point at which the 
French Revolution was corrupted may be open to argument, but certainly 

Chapter Three: Part III 


it had been corrupted by the time Napoleon became First Consul. When 
that happened, it was too late to establish a representative democracy. 

In Mexico following the revolution of 1910-1920, the revolution¬ 
aries did not bring social justice to the peasants all at once but sought 
“a more conservative evolution... and more stability in government.” 136 
Progress toward social justice for the peasants essentially ended in 1940 
when Lazaro Cardenas, one of the original revolutionaries, concluded his 
term as president. 137 Thus, delay in fulfillment of the revolutionary ideal 
prevented its complete fulfillment. Even the partial fulfillment of the ideal 
that had been achieved was largely reversed under President Salinas de 
Gortari (1988-1994). 138 

In England and the United States the feminist movement achieved 
its central goal—woman suffrage—as soon as it was powerful enough to 
do so. Since then the feminist movement, though splintered into various 
factions, has remained sufficiently powerful to make continued progress 
toward total equality for women, as described earlier in this chapter, but, as 
far as this writer knows, the movement has not been seriously corrupted in 
the sense of allowing the personal ambitions of its members or its leaders 
to supersede the movement’s ideal of equality of the sexes. 

However, Rule (v) refers to revolutionary movements, and feminism 
today is not a revolutionary movement. When it emerged during the first 
half of the 19th century feminism might perhaps have been called revolu¬ 
tionary, since immediate implementation of the feminists’ demands would 
have entailed a fairly radical alteration of society. But, as noted earlier, 
feminism was favored by the historical trend toward “equality” in general, 
and by the time feminists acquired the right to vote in the 1920s their 
movement could no longer be considered revolutionary; one would hardly 
say that the achievement of woman suffrage caused a social earthquake. 
Still less is the feminists’ goal of total gender equality a revolutionary one 

Because its goals have not been of revolutionary magnitude, the fem¬ 
inist movement has not had to grow powerful enough to become attractive 
to opportunists. Membership in feminist organizations today does not in 
any substantial degree earn a woman such personal advantages as money, 
power, or social status. 139 A woman seeking such advantages will enter a 
career in business, government, politics, or the professions, not in a feminist 
organization. Thus Postulate 4 and Rule (v) do not apply. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

In the case of the Irish nationalist movement the issue is somewhat 
complicated. By achieving dominion status in 1922 the nationalists reached 
the main part of their goal, and they reached it as soon as they were pow¬ 
erful enough to do so. 

It’s not clear that it would be reasonable to say that the movement 
thereafter became corrupt in the sense of being no longer faithful to the 
goal, because the goal was already mostly achieved. Yet, once the movement 
was in power, it split into two factions over the oath of allegiance to the 
British crown that members of the new Irish Parliament had to take. 140 The 
more extreme faction, led by Eamon de Valera, regarded the members of 
the other faction (which accepted the oath) as sell-outs (as “corrupted” in 
our sense of the word) for giving in to the British on this largely symbolic 
issue. 141 

De Valera’s faction eventually came into power, but nevertheless 
remained faithful to its goal of total independence from Britain until, by 
1949, the objectionable oath had been eliminated, Ireland had been for¬ 
mally declared a republic, and the last vestiges of political dependence on 
Britain had disappeared. But all this took place under the leadership of de 
Valera, 142 who was one of the original revolutionaries. 143 Postulate 4 does 
not assert that a successful revolutionary movement is corrupted until all 
of its original leaders have become politically inactive. 

Moreover, in another sense it could be argued that even de Valera’s 
faction of the Irish nationalist movement was corrupted, for a certain frac¬ 
tion of Ireland (“Northern Ireland”) remains tied to Britain even today as 
part of the United Kingdom. 144 The original Irish revolutionaries regarded 
such a partition of their country as unacceptable; their goal was indepen¬ 
dence for all of Ireland. 145 At least until 1998, the Republic of Ireland 
maintained a nominal claim to sovereignty over Northern Ireland, but 
there were no efforts on the part of mainstream Irish politicians to make 
that claim effective. 146 These politicians, like politicians everywhere, have 
no doubt been concerned primarily with their own careers. (They are “cor¬ 
rupt” in our sense.) 

Thus, having been unable to take Northern Ireland from the British 
soon after they acquired power, the Irish nationalists lost that territory 
forever, or at least for the foreseeable future. 147 There still exist offshoots 
of the original Irish nationalist movement 148 (Sinn Fein and the IRA, the 
Provisional IRA, the Real IRA, the Effective IRA, or whatever the latest 
faction of a faction of a faction is called) that maybe uncorrupted in the 

Chapter Three: Part IV 


sense of remaining faithful to the goal of independence for all of Ireland, 
but these offshoots do not have great power, hence Postulate 4 does not 
apply to them. 

The Reformation was not the work of a single movement but a com¬ 
plex event in which several theological movements, such as those of Luther, 
Zwingli, and Calvin, competed with one another, 149 and in which various 
princes participated for reasons that likely had more to do with their own 
practical advantage than with religious conviction. 150 Thus an examination 
of the Reformation in relation to Postulate 4 and Rule (v) would be com¬ 
plicated and would require a detailed knowledge of the period. 

* * 


As we’ve seen from the examples reviewed here, our five rules are not 
to be taken as rigid laws that every radical movement must consciously obey 
on pain of total failure. In many situations the interpretation of the rules 
may be difficult and complicated, or the application of some of the rules 
may be impossible or unnecessary. The rules nevertheless are important 
because, at the least, they set forth problems that every radical movement 
needs to study carefully. A movement that does not consciously address the 
problems represented by the rules may possibly succeed through mere luck, 
but its chances of success will be very much less than those of a movement 
that takes the rules into consideration. 

In the next section we will see how present-day efforts to deal with 
the problems generated by modern technology, including the problem of 
environmental devastation, are doomed to failure through neglect of the 
five rules. 

IV. The Application 

Let’s start with Chellis Glendinning’s “Notes Toward a Neo-Luddite 
Manifesto,” which can be found in an anthology compiled by David 
Skrbina. 151 Glendinning’s statement of the goals of neo-luddism is long 
and complicated, and most of the stated goals are hopelessly vague. Here 
is a sample: 

We favor the creation of technologies in which politics, morality, ecology, 

and technics are mergedfor the benefit of life on Earth: 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

• Community-based energy sources utilizing solar, wind, and water 
technologies—which are renewable and enhance both community 
relations and respect for nature; 

• Organic, biological technologies... which derive directly from natural 
models and systems; 

• Conflict resolution technologies —which emphasize cooperation, 
understanding, and continuity of relationship; and 

• Decentralized social technologies —which encourage participation, 
responsibility, and empowerment. 

...We favor the development of a life-enhancing worldview in Western 
technological societies. We hope to instill a perception of life, death, 
and human potential into technological societies that will integrate 
the human need for creative expression, spiritual experience and 
community with the capacity for rational thought and functionality. 
We perceive the human role not as the dominator of other species 
and planetary biology, but as integrated into the natural world with 
appreciation for the sacredness of all life. 

One can hardly imagine a more flagrant violation of Rule (i), which 
states that a movement needs a single, clear, simple, concrete goal. Nor is 
this a case in which vague, generalized goals may be attainable because 
a movement faces no serious opposition and is favored by a pre-existing 
historical trend. On the contrary, modern society is driven hard along its 
present technological path by the vigorous, determined, unremitting efforts 
of innumerable, deeply-committed scientists, engineers, and administrators, 
and by desperate competition for power among large organizations. Under 
these circumstances, the vagueness and complexity of Glendinning’s goals 
are by themselves sufficient to guarantee the failure of her proposals. 

What about Rule (v), which requires that a successful revolutionary 
movement achieve its goals promptly, before corruption sets in? As the 
basis for a thorough reorganization of society (radical enough to be called 
a revolution even if nonviolent), Glendinning’s proposal demands the cre¬ 
ation of a broad range of technologies, most of which differ widely from 
any well-developed technologies that exist today. The creation of these 
technologies, if possible at all, would require extensive, systematic research, 
vast resources, and a great deal of time. A neo-luddite movement would 

Chapter Three: Part IV 


be able to gain control over the resources it needed only if it became big, 
powerful, and well-organized, hence ripe for corruption. In order to carry 
out the necessary social reorganization, the movement would even have to 
be the dominant force in society, and the process of reorganization would 
surely take at least a few decades—say forty years at a minimum. By that 
time the movement’s original leaders would all be out of action and the 
movement would be corrupt, as guaranteed by Postulate 4. Consequently, 
the reorganization of society in accord with neo-luddite principles would 
never be completed. 

Let’s nevertheless make the improbable assumption that society had 
been transformed in the way advocated by Glendinning. Would the trans¬ 
formation be irreversible, as Rule (ii) requires? That is, would society remain 
in its transformed condition without continuing effort by the neo-luddites? 
Not a chance! As discussed in Chapter Two, natural selection guaran¬ 
tees that conflict and competition for power would re-emerge after the 
neo-luddite utopia had been established. Even if one rejects the argument 
of Chapter Two, it is an observable fact that human affairs have usually if 
not always been characterized by conflict and competition, whether within 
societies or between different societies. Glendinning does not explain what 
would prevent conflict and competition from reappearing and wrecking 
the neo-luddite utopia. In practice, the neo-luddite movement would be 
corrupted, just as every other radical movement that has become the dom¬ 
inant force in a society has been corrupted. Neo-luddite ideals would be 
forgotten or would receive only lip-service, and the continued existence of 
modern technology (which Glendinning does not contemplate eliminating) 
would ensure society’s inevitable return to its present destructive trajectory. 

As for Rule (iii), Glendinning shows no awareness of the need to form 
an organized movement committed to practical action. Apparently, either 
she thinks she and other neo-luddites can transform society just by preach¬ 
ing, or else she hopes someone else will do the hard work of organizing an 
effective movement. As we noticed earlier, the advocacy of ideas is easy; 
what is difficult is the task of organizing for practical action. Confronted 
with this task, people like Glendinning feel intimidated. They are appalled 
at the catastrophic growth of the technological system and they want to do 
something about it, but they are too helpless and ineffectual to face up to 
the formidable challenge of building a movement. So to give themselves 
the illusion that they are “doing something” they preach about the way 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

they think we should deal with technology or with the devastation of our 
environment. The result is that we have an abundance of dreamy utopian 
schemes for saving the world, but in practical terms nothing gets done. 

There are of course groups that do organize themselves in pursuit 
of fairly definite goals of limited scope; for example, groups like the Sierra 
Club that try to preserve wilderness. And they do accomplish something—a 
little bit—but what they accomplish is insignificant in relation to the prob¬ 
lem of technology in general. The insignificance of their accomplishments 
is guaranteed by the limited scope of their goals. 

Since Glendinning doesn’t even mention the need to form an orga¬ 
nized movement, the question of Rule (iv) (that a movement should find 
means of excluding unsuitable persons) does not arise. 

But the worst is that Glendinning is utterly naive; she doesn’t even 
show any awareness that the problems indicated by Rules (i) through (v) 
exist. Her neo-luddite scheme therefore is no better than any of the other 
unreal utopian fantasies that have misled the unwary ever since Plato 
dreamed up his ideal republic. 

Skrbina’s anthology also contains an essay by Arne Naess, the 
Norwegian philosopher who coined the term “deep ecology.” 152 Taken 
simply as criticisms of the technological system, many of Naess’s remarks 
are quite valid. But it appears that Naess wants to bring about far-reaching, 
fundamental changes in the way the system functions in the real world, 
and to the extent his ideas are intended to lead us toward that practical 
objective, they are totally useless. 

Naess’s goals are—if such a thing is possible—even more diffuse 
than those proposed by Glendinning. In fact, Naess in this essay does not 
explicitly enumerate his goals at all. But he does write: 

A crucial objective of the coming years is... decentralisation and dif¬ 
ferentiation as a means to increased local autonomy and, ultimately, as 

a means to unfolding the rich potentialities of the human person. 153 

The ultimate goal, “unfolding the rich potentialities of the human 
person,” is just beautiful; one can hardly conceive of a more elegant plati¬ 
tude. But as a practical proposal it is meaningless. The intermediate goals 
of “decentralisation” and “local autonomy” are not meaningless, but they 
are still too vague to form the basis for an effective movement. 

Chapter Three: Part IV 


Naess also writes that it is “a major concern to find a kind of equilib¬ 
rium” between “the requirements of reduced interference with nature and 
satisfaction of human vital needs.” 154 This does not even remotely approach 
the degree of specificity that a goal must have in order to be practical. Naess 
does slightly better when he quotes eight pairs of related goals stated by 
Johan Galtung. 155 Two of the pairs are: 

Clothes [:] build down international textile business [—] try to restore 
patterns of local handicraft: symbiosis with food production 

Transportation/communication [:] less centralised, two-way patterns, 
collective means of transport [—] try to restore patterns of walking, 
talking, bicycling, more car-free areas, cable TV, local media 

Most of Galtung’s goals are still too vague to serve as the basis for 
an effective movement, but some at least are definite enough so that indi¬ 
vidually they might serve as starting points from which one could try to 
develop more precise goals. However, eight pairs of goals are too many; 
and the achievement even of every one of Galtung’s goals would not be 
anywhere near enough to solve the overall problem of technology. Thus, 
Naess’s scheme violates Rule (i) as flagrantly as Glendinning’s does. 

Naess is ignorant of Rule (v): He thinks “big, centralised, hierar¬ 
chical” social structures can be “phased out gradually.” 156 Evidently he 
envisions a transformation of society that is to take at least a couple of 
generations; but in that case “deep ecology” will be corrupted long before 
the transformation is complete. Once “deep ecology” has been corrupted, 
people in positions of power will pursue primarily their own advantage 
and will use “deep ecology” concepts only as propaganda if they use them 
at all. So the transformation envisioned by Naess will never be completed. 

Naess’s scheme also violates Rule (ii): Even if society had somehow 
been transformed in the way Naess desires, the transformation would not 
be irreversible. It seems clear that Naess expects the retention of a good 
deal of advanced technology, 157 and constant vigilance would be necessary 
to prevent that technology from being used in ways that were inconsistent 
with the kind of society that Naess proposes. In practice, such vigilance 
would not be long maintained, because corruption (in our sense of the 
word) inevitably would set in. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

As for Rule (iii), Naess, like Glendinning, seems to think he can save 
the world just by preaching, for he gives no indication of any awareness 
of the need to organize the “deep ecology” movement for practical action. 

* * 


We could review the work of other writers in this genre—Ivan Ilich, 
Jerry Mander, Kirkpatrick Sale, Daniel Quinn, John Zerzan, the whole 
useless crew—but there would be little point in doing so, because we would 
only be repeating the same criticisms that we’ve directed at Glendinning 
and Naess. 158 This entire body of literature suffers, by and large, from the 
same faults as the work of these last two writers: Authors express their 
well-grounded horror at what the technological system is doing, but the 
remedies they suggest are totally unrealistic. There are many reasons why 
their remedies are unrealistic; in the present chapter we’ve discussed only 
those reasons related to the dynamics of social movements as reflected in our 
five rules, but in Chapters One and Two, and elsewhere, 159 we’ve described 
other very powerful reasons why solutions like those of Glendinning, Naess, 
Illich, Mander et al can never be put into practice. 

The reader may well ask whether it is possible to conceive of any 
remedy at all for the problem of technology that would be consistent with 
the five rules. We think it is possible. To begin, let’s follow Mao’s advice and 
ask what is the principal contradiction in the situation with which we are 
faced. The principal contradiction, clearly, is that between wild nature and 
the technological system. This suggests that the objective chosen should be 
that of “killing” the technological system as we’ve described previously. 160 
In other words, revolutionaries should aim to bring about the collapse of 
the system by any means necessary. 

Rule (i): This objective is sufficiently clear, concrete, and simple to 
form the basis for an effective movement. 

Rule (v): If a revolutionary movement once grew powerful enough 
to destroy the technological system in this way, it ought to be able to 
accomplish the destruction in a short time. Destruction is easier by far 
than construction. 

Rule (ii): If the system were thoroughly broken down the effect would 
be—at least for a long time—irreversible, because it would take several 
hundred years or more for a new technological system to develop. 161 Some 

Chapter Three: Notes 


people even believe that a technological system could never again be created 
on Earth. 162 

Rule (iv): A revolutionary movement aspiring to “kill” the techno¬ 
logical system would need to find away of preventing unsuitable persons 
from joining the movement. Most likely the chief danger would come from 
people of leftist type (as defined in ISAIF 163 ) who attach themselves to 
“causes” indiscriminately. 164 A movement could probably drive such people 
away by maintaining a continuous verbal and ideological attack on leftist 
beliefs, goals, and ideas. 165 If that proved insufficient to repel leftists, or if 
other types of undesirables (e.g., rightists) were attracted to the movement, 
other means of keeping the movement “pure” would have to be found. 

Rule (iii): The hard part would be the task of organizing people 
for practical action. We can’t offer any formula or recipe for carrying out 
this task, but those who undertake such an effort will find their road less 
difficult if they apply the ideas and information provided in Chapter Four, 
which follows. 


1. Mao, p. 112. 

2. Huenefeld, p. 6. 

3. “The propagandist must realize that neither rational arguments nor 
catchy slogans can, by themselves, do much to influence human behavior.” NEB 
(2003), Vol. 26, “Propaganda,” p. 175. 

4. See Smelser, pp. 345 note 5, 356-57. 

5. See NEB (2003), Vol. 16, “Collective Behavior,” p. 563. There is undoubt¬ 
edly a good deal of truth in what the Britannica says here about the blurring of 
a movement’s goals over time. Nevertheless, the Britannicas statements are not 
entirely borne out by the examples discussed in the present chapter. We may 
suspect the Britannica of generalizing too broadly. 

6. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “War, Theory and Conduct of,” p. 649. 

7. Trotsky, Vol. Three, p. 179. 

8. See Currey, p. 344; W.S. Randall, pp. 215, 250, 262. 

9. E.g., McCullough, pp. 102, 163. 

10. Ibid., pp. 374-381, 397-98. W.S. Randall, pp. 480-83. Chernow, pp. 
227-239, 241,243-44, 261-68. 

11. W.S. Randall, p. 512. 

12. Ibid., p. 201. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

13.1 n the early days of the Republic the members of the Electoral College 
that chose the President were not necessarily elected by the people; in many states 
they were appointed by the state legislatures. Ibid., p. 544. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, 
“United States of America,” p. 223. And, until 1913, Senators too were appointed 
by state legislatures, not elected by the people. Constitution of the United States, 
Article I, Section 3; Amendment XVII. Also, see Haraszti, pp. 32-33. 

14. See NEB (2003), Vol. 16, “Christianity,” pp. 258, 262 for the moral 
rigorism of the earliest Christians and its gradual relaxation. 

15. Exodus 22:25. The King James Version uses the term “usury”; the New 
English Bible, the Revised English Bible, and the New International Version do not. 
In all these versions, strictly speaking, the Bible prohibits the taking of interest 
only from “poor” or “needy” people. 

16. Pirenne, pp. 251-52 8c note 4. See also NEB (2003), Vol. 12, “usury,” 

p. 216. 

17. E.g., Matthew 6:19-24,19:21-24; Luke 6:20-25,12:15-21. 

18. Acts 4:34-35. (Kingjames Version). 

19. In the Kingjames Version, Exodus 20:13 says “Thou shalt not kill” and 
Mark 10:19 makes Jesus say “Do not kill,” but Matthew 19:18 quotes Jesus as 
saying, “Thou shalt do no murder.” However, in each of these three verses the 
more modern translations cited in note 15, above, use the word “murder” instead 
of “kill.” Jesus must at least have considered it justifiable to kill in self defense, 
for when he advised his disciples to carry swords (Luke 22:36) he surely did not 
mean these to serve as mere decoration. Here of course we refer to Jesus’s sayings 
as reported in the Gospels, which presumably reflect what the early Christians 
believed him to have said, whatever he may have said in reality. 

20. See NEB (2003), Vol. 23, “Marx and Marxism,” pp. 533-34. 

21. “When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but 
express the fact that within the old society the elements of a new one have been 
created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the disso¬ 
lution of the old conditions of existence.” Marx 8c Engels, Chapt. II, p. 91. 

22. “Propaganda that aims to induce major changes is certain to take great 
amounts of time, resources, patience, and indirection, except in times of revo¬ 
lutionary crisis when old beliefs have been shattered....” NEB (2003), Vol. 26, 
“Propaganda,” p. 176. 

23. M.F. Lee, pp. 119, 136. 

24. The story is told by M.F. Lee. 

25. See NEB (2003), Micropaedia articles on Anthony, Susan B.; Bajer, 
Fredrik; Blatch, Harriot Eaton Stanton; Braun, Lily; Catt, Carrie Chapman; 
Gage, Matilda Joslyn; Garrison, William Lloyd; Grimke, Sarah (Moore) and 
Angelina (Emily); Mott, Lucretia; Phillips, Wendell; Rankin, Jeanette; Stanton, 

Chapter Three: Notes 


Elizabeth Cady; Stone, Lucy; Truth, Sojourner; Woodhull, Victoria. Also Vol. 
9, “prostitution,” p. 737. 

26. See ibid., articles on Anthony, Catt, and Gage, plus: Vol. 9, “Pankhurst, 
Emmeline,” pp. 115-16; Vol. 19, “Feminism,” p. 160 (“the feminist movement... 
became focused on a single issue, woman suffrage...”). It’s true that beginning in 
the late 1890s “radical feminists challenged the single-minded focus on suffrage,” 
ibid., p. 161, but still it seems clear that at least from about 1870 until the 1920s, 
woman suff rage was overwhelmingly the dominant goal of the feminist movement 
in England and America. 

27. See ISAIF, paragraph 83, in Kaczynski, pp. 61-62. 

28. “In connection with the Italian fascist movement, Rossi remarked that 
by the beginning of 1922, the movement was sufficiently successful to provide 
various advantages to members— ‘uniform, arms, expeditions, subsidies, loot, 
flattery, and all the other advantages reserved to fascists.’ Such attractions pre¬ 
sumably would attract members on bases other than ideological commitment.” 
Smelser, p. 357 note 1, quoting Rossi, p. 180. 

29. Trotsky, Vol. Two, pp. 309-310. 

30. Sampson, p. xxv. 

31. See, e.g., Read, pp. 58-60. 

32. NEB (2003), Vol. 12, “Uthmanibn Affan,” p. 219; Vol. 22, “The Islamic 
World,” pp. 110-11. 

33. See R. Zakaria, e.g., pp. 59, 282-83, 296. 

34. La Botz, pp. 43-63, 127. See also NEB (2003), Vol. 6, “Institutional 
Revolutionary Party,” p. 333; Vol. 24, “Mexico,” pp. 48-49. The revolutionary 
stage of Mexico’s “revolutionary” party ended in 1940. See note 137, below. 

35. Hoffer, § 116. 

36. Ibid., § 7, quoting Hitler, p. 105. 

37. Mao, pp. 362-63. 

38. Ibid., p. 475. 

39. The Economist, June 25, 2011, p. 14 (“Although the decision by these 
young careerists to sign up [for Communist Party membership] shows the party’s 
clout, they have very different ambitions from those of the old ideologues.”). Ibid., 
“Special Report” on China: The general impression one gets from this Special 
Report is that China’s politicians are doing what politicians everywhere do— 
jockeying for personal power and advantage—and that they use the old Maoist 
ideology only as a tool for that purpose. 

40. E.g., The Economist, April 2, 2011, p. 34, and April 23, 2011, p. 74; 
Folger, p. 145. 

41. W.S. Randall, p. 357. 

42. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “United States of America,” pp. 216-18. 

43. McCullough, pp. 504-06,536,577. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

44. See NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “United States of America,” pp. 221,223-24; 
McCullough, p. 398. 

45. La Botz, pp. 66, 81. 

46. Ibid., p. 72. 

47. Ibid., p. 70. 

48. Ibid., p. 81. 

49. See ibid., p. 234. 

50. Ibid., p. 78. 

51. Ibid., p. 80. The quoted statement refers to 1995, when La Botz’s book 
was published. I do not know whether Mexico subsequently resumed the con¬ 
struction of nuclear power-plants. 

52. Ibid., p. 232. 

53. The Week, March 21,2008, p. 11. See also ibid., March 13,2009, p. 16; 
Caputo, pp. 62-69; Padgett 8c Grillo, pp. 30-33. 

54. USA Today, Feb. 6, 2013, pp. 1A, 5A. But see ibid., Nov. 22,2013, p. 8A. 

55. See NEB (2003), Vol. 19, “Feminism,” p. 160. 

56. See note 26, above. 

57. NEB (2003), Vol. 12, “women’s movement,” pp. 734-35; Vol. 19, 
“Feminism,” pp. 161-62. 

58. See both the articles cited in note 57. 

59. Kee, pp. 24-25. 

60. Ibid., pp. 101-09,114-121,126, 128-29,151. 

61. Ibid., p. 204. 

62. Ibid., p. 179. 

63. Ibid., pp. 181-82. 

64. Ibid., pp. 181,186. 

65. Ibid. 

66. Ibid., pp. 181-86. 

67. Catholic Emancipation received only a “pained and angry” royal assent. 
Ibid., pp. 185-86. 

68. Ibid., pp. 184-85. Churchill, pp. 27-30. 

69. Kee, pp. 152,193, 201, 227. 

70. Ibid., pp. 193-242. 

71. Ibid., p. 246. 

72. Ibid., p. 257. 

73. Ibid., p. 261. 

74. Ibid., pp. 264-67. 

75. Ibid., pp. 270, 304-05. 

76. Ibid., pp. 305-06. 

77. Ibid. 

78. Ibid., pp. 308-310, 315-320. 

Chapter Three: Notes 


79. Ibid., pp. 335-340. 

80. Ibid., pp. 351-564, especially p. 391. 

81. See ibid., pp. 352-53. 

82. Ibid., pp. 351-470, especially p. 352. 

83. Ibid., pp. 548-709. Those who are familiar with Irish history may feel 
that the first half of this paragraph represents a serious oversimplification, but, 
assuming that Kee’s history is not misleading, and notwithstanding the expected 
objections of Irish nationalists (who are not in a position to make an unbiased 
judgment), I think this passage comes close enough to the truth for present pur¬ 
poses. I’m not writing a textbook of history. I’m using Irish history to illustrate 
certain points, and to do this briefly I have to paint with a very broad brush. Similar 
remarks apply to many of the other historical examples cited throughout this book. 

84. Ibid., pp. 719, 726. 

85. Ibid., p. 728. 

86. Ibid., pp. 728 note *, 730,732-745. 

87. Ibid., pp. 748-49. However, some diehards continued to maintain an 
illegal organization calling itself the Irish Republican Army. Ibid. 

88. Ibid., pp. 748-751. 

89. The nationalists’ victory was incomplete inasmuch as the six counties 
comprising Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom. This fact 
is not important at the present point in our discussion, but we will have occasion 
to return to it further on. 

90. See ibid., pp. 389-390. 

91. Ibid., pp. 353-54, 368-376. 

92. See ibid., pp. 750-51. 

93. See ibid., pp. 732-33, 752. 

94. Ibid., p. 303 (Stephens’s “political thought contained obvious traces of 
revolutionary socialist thinking”); p. 334 (“a republic... which shall secure to all 
the intrinsic value of their labour”); p. 751. 

95. Ibid., p. 446. NEB (2003), Vol. 21, “Ireland,” p. 1004 (“cultural reviv¬ 
alism became an inspiration to the Irish nationalist struggle of the early decades 
of the 20th century”). 

96. Ibid., p. 1001. 

97. Kee, p. 751. 

98. See NEB (2003), Vol. 15, “Calvin and Calvinism,” p. 436; Vol. 19, 
“Geneva,” p. 743; Vol. 26, “Protestantism,” p. 212, and “Rousseau,” p. 939. 

99. During the 1970s the Secretary General of the Communist Party of 
Spain wrote that the State that had developed in the Soviet Union was neither one 
“that could be considered a workers democracy" nor “the State that Lenin imagined.” 
Carrillo, pp. 201, 202. Carrillo also pointed out that, in the Soviet Union, “the 
bureaucratic stratum... decides and resolves at a higher level than the working 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

class and even at a higher level than the party, which, as a whole, is subordinate 
to the bureaucratic stratum.” Ibid., pp. 207-08. Thus, the Soviet Union was a 
dictatorship neither of the proletariat nor of the party of the proletariat, but of 
the bureaucracy. 

100. It’s not entirely clear to what extent Putin actually monopolizes power 
in Russia, but, whatever the exact distribution of power may be, no one claims 
thatRussiaas of2013 is a functioning democracy. See,e.g., The Economist, March 
19, 2011, p. 61; April 9, 2011, p. 57; May 21, 2011, p. 60; Sept. 17, 2011, p. 49. 
In 2012 there were signs of a resurgent pro-democracy movement in Russia, but 
even if such a movement were successful it would be irrelevant for our purposes. 
Our intention here is not to predict the political future of Russia, but only to 
illustrate how democracy can be subverted even while the formal apparatus of 
democracy is maintained. 

101. Telia, Germani, Graciarena et al., p. 266 note 15, quoting Fluharty, 
quoting in turn Garcia. 

102. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “Western Africa,”p. 841. 

103. Ibid., Vol. 17, “Eastern Africa,” p. 810. 

104. Ibid., p. 803. 

105. In Kenya, as of 2003, the president had “the power to dismiss at will 
the attorney general and senior judges... [and] to detain without trial persons 
who ha[d] been deemed a threat to national security.... Through the cabinet, the 
president controlled] the passage of legislation....” NEB (2003), Vol. 17, “Eastern 
Africa,” p. 798. A Kenyan lawyer complained, “we have to put up with dictators....” 
National Geographic , Sept. 2005, p. 15. According to a United Nations expert, 
“Kenyan police are a law unto themselves and often execute criminal suspects 
and other individuals with impunity.... Such executions are not the work of rogue 
officers but are widespread and carefully planned....” Denver Post, Feb. 26, 2009, 
p. 11A. “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Kenya for rampant 
graft and corruption....” USA Today, Aug. 6, 2009, p. 7A. More recently, Kenya 
adopted a new constitution under which the president is less powerful. Time, 
Aug. 23, 2010, p. 19. On the other hand, it is said that the Kenyan government 
has been so deeply subverted by drug gangs that Kenya deserves to be called a 
“narco-state.” See note 21 to Chapter Two. 

106. Kee, pp. 21-27. The “Whiteboys” apparently took their name from 
the white shirts they wore. Ibid., p. 24. 

107. Ibid., pp. 24, 26, 27. 

108. Ibid., pp. 44, 57, 68-69, 73. 

109. Ibid., pp. 57, 59, 61, 68-69, 73, 126,151. 

110. See ibid., pp. 101-09,114-121,128-29. 

111. Trotsky, Vol. One, pp. 136-152, especially p. 152. For the role of ideas 
in the French Revolution, see Haraszti, p. 22, citing opinion of M. Roustan. 

Chapter Three: Notes 


112. Kee, pp. 450-611. 

113. Ibid., pp. 595-742. 

114. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, “Germany,” pp. 89-90; Vol. 23, “Luther,” p. 
310. Dorpalen, pp. 113-14, 117, 119 8c note 49. 

115. Dorpalen, p. 113. 

116. Ibid., pp. 114-121 8c notes 44,49. NEB (2003), Vol. 10,“Schmalkaldic 
League,” p. 527; Vol. 20, “Germany,” pp. 88-90; Vol. 23, “Luther,” pp. 310-11; 
Vol. 26, “Protestantism,” pp. 208-211, 213. 

117. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, “Germany,” p. 83. 

118. See Elias, e.g., pp. 166-171. Cf. Graham 8c Gurr, Chapt. 12, by 
Roger Lane. 

119. On learned helplessness see Seligman. 

120. During the period studied by Selznick, Communist parties outside the 
SovietUnionwere selective in recruiting members. Selznick, pp. 24,60. However, 
these parties do not provide good examples for present purposes, because they 
were not independent movements but tools or agencies of the Soviet Union. Ibid., 
passim, e.g., pp. 120-21,132-33,178,216,221. 

121. Trotsky, Vol. Two, p. 309. 

122. Mao, pp. 143-44,172, 175, 258. 

123. NEB (2003), Vol. 2, “Brook Farm,” p. 549. 

124. Smelser, pp. 356-57, quoting Noyes, p. 653. 

125. Smelser, p. 357 note 1. 

126. NEB (2003), Vol. 12,“Woodhull, Victoria,” p. 743. Buhle 8cSullivan, 
pp. 36-37 (“Woodhull fled to England, married wealthily and renounced her 
former radical ideas.”). 

127. Our historian states explicitly that O’Connell had his later Repeal 
Association firmly under his own control. Kee, p. 193. O’Connell founded the 
Catholic Association (for Catholic Emancipation), and the Catholic Association 
was superbly disciplined, ibid., pp. 179-186, so it is probable in view of O’Connell’s 
immense prestige that he had the Catholic Association under his own control to 
the extent that it is possible for one man to control an organization of that size. 

128. Ibid. 

129. Ibid., p. 182. 

130. Ibid., p. 456. 

131. See ibid., p. 450. 

132. This statement slightly simplifies the actual situation. A relatively 
“moderate” Sinn Fein leader like Arthur Griffith was willing at least to con¬ 
template conceding something to those Irishmen who wanted less than total 
independence. Ibid., pp. 451, 720. But Griffith personally believed that nothing 
less than total independence would be sufficient. Ibid., p. 451. Throughout Kee’s 
account of the Irish War of Independence, his application of the term “moderates” 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

to Griffith’s faction evidently refers only to a difference of opinion within the 
movement about the means by which and the time at which total independence 
was to be achieved. There seems to have been general agreement within the 
movement that total independence was the ultimate goal. E.g., ibid., pp. 609 (“it 
was known that Sinn Fein stood for ‘total independence’”), 626. 

133. Ibid., pp. 606, 608, 610, 611, 621-22, 630, 641, 647-48, 651, 652, 
654, 661, 680, 711, 732, 733. 

134. Ibid., pp. 606, 613-14, 641,654, 661, 662, 732. 

135. See ibid., p. 730. Once hostilities against the British were suspended, 
there was a split in the Irish movement owing largely to “the removal of the 
need for what had often been unnatural unanimity”—unanimity enforced by the 
requirement of a common front against the enemy in a shooting war. 

136. NEB (2003), Vol. 6. “Institutional Revolutionary Party,” p. 333. But 
the Britannka’s statement may represent an unduly generous view of the motives of 
Mexico’s revolutionary leaders other than Lazaro Cardenas. Compare the detailed 
account of Tannenbaum, pp. 198-224. 

137. Agusti'n, pp. 7,16-19. La Botz, pp. 43-63. 

138. La Botz, p. 118. 

139. A few individual women have gotten rich by writing feministic books, 
but they have been able to write these books independently of their member¬ 
ship in feminist organizations, if indeed they have been members of any such 

140. Kee, pp. 726-27, 733-34. 

141. Ibid, pp. 728 8c note *, 730-33, 748-49. 

142. Ibid, pp. 748-751. 

143. Ibid, e.g, pp. 610-12. 

144. Ibid, pp. 750-51. 

145. Ibid, e.g, pp. 592-93, 721, 745, 748. 

146. See ibid, p. 749, and NEB (2003), Vol. 10, “Sinn Fein,” p. 837. 

147. Kee, pp. 713, 747, 749, 751, 752. 

148. See note 146. 

149. See NEB (2003), Vol. 26, “Protestantism,” pp. 206-214. 

150. See Dorpalen, pp. 108, 113, 121, 124,125 denote 65. 

151. Skrbina, pp. 275-78. According to Dr. Skrbina (personal communi¬ 
cation to the author), Glendinning’s article originally appeared in Utne Reader, 
March/April 1990.1 have not seen the original article, and am relying solely on 
Dr. Skrbina’s anthology. 

152. Skrbina, pp. 221-230. The “essay” is actually a section of Naess, pp. 

153. Naess, p. 97. Skrbina, p. 225. 

154. Naess, p. 98. Skrbina, p. 226. 

Chapter Three: Notes 


155. Naess, p. 99, Table 4.1. Skrbina, p. 226. 

156. Naess, p. 98. Skrbina, p. 226. 

157. “The objectives of the deep ecological movement do not imply any 
depreciation of technology or industry... .” Naess, p. 102. Skrbina, p. 229. 

158. This writer has read but little of the work of Glendinning or of Naess, 
and it’s possible that elsewhere in their writings they may have remedied to some 
extent the deficiencies we’ve noted here, by (for example) formulating more precise 
goals or acknowledging the need for an organization oriented toward practical 
action. For present purposes, however, this is not very important, because our 
interest is not in Glendinning or Naess personally but in the whole genre of 
literature that they represent. And the deficiencies we’ve noted in the works of 
Glendinning and Naess here discussed are characteristic of the genre. 

159. See, e.g., ISAIF, paragraphs 99-104,111-12, in Kaczynski, pp. 67-70, 
and see ibid., pp. 308-329. 

160. Kaczynski, pp. 333-34, 368-370. The system could be “killed” by 
shutting down one or more of its essential functions (e.g., computer networks, 
electrical power grid, or transportation and communication facilities), but the 
death of the system might also be achieved in some other way. 

161. See ISAIF, paragraphs 207-212, in Kaczynski, pp. 104-06. 

162. This was the opinion of, for example, the late distinguished astronomer 
Fred Hoyle (Hoyle, p. 62). The argument is that, due to the exhaustion of such 
natural resources as readily accessible deposits of coal, oil, and high-grade metallic 
ores, there could not be a new Industrial Revolution; consequently, there could 
never again be a technologically advanced society. Unfortunately, I can’t agree with 
this. I think it’s all too possible that a technologically advanced society might be 
developed without “coal, oil, and high-grade metallic ores,” especially since there 
would be a vast amount of scrap metal left over from the previous technological 
society. But it’s certainly true that the development of a technologically advanced 
society would be much slower and more difficult the second time around due to 
the lack of coal, oil, etc. 

163. ISAIF, paragraphs 6-32,213-230, in Kaczynski, pp. 39-47,106-112. 

164. See Kaczynski, p. 15, and the case of Judi Bari in the discussion of 
Postulate 3, above. 

165. As in the pages cited in note 163, and in “The Truth About Primitive 
Life” (Kaczynski, pp. 128-189) and “The System’s Neatest Trick” (ibid., pp. 


Strategic Guidelines for 
an Anti-Tech Movement 

Force is the final arbiter, vigorous intervention is the key¬ 
note, and victory goes to those who have the courage and 
the discipline to see things through to the end. Such a view 
is characteristic of groups which seek to catapult themselves 
out of obscurity into history when, as it seems to them, all 
the forces of society are arrayed in opposition. 

—Philip Selznick 1 

1. No specific route to victory for an anti-tech movement can be laid 
out in advance. The movement will have to wait for opportunities that in 
due course will enable it to bring about the collapse of the technological 
system. The exact nature of the opportunities and the time of their arrival 
will in general be unpredictable, so the movement will have to prepare itself 
for successful exploitation on short notice of any and all such opportunities. 

First, the movement must build its own internal sources of power. It 
will have to create a strong, cohesive organization consisting of individu¬ 
als who are absolutely committed to the elimination of the technological 
system. Numbers will be a secondary consideration. A numerically small 
organization built of high-quality personnel will be far more effective than 
a much larger organization in which the majority of members are of medi¬ 
ocre quality. 2 The organization will have to develop its understanding of 
the dynamics of social movements so that it will recognize opportunities 
when they arrive and will know how to exploit them. 

Second, the movement must build power in relation to its social envi¬ 
ronment. It must win respect for its ideas, its vigor, its effectiveness. If it 
is widely feared and hated, so much the better; but it must earn for itself a 
reputation as the purest and most uncompromisingly revolutionary of all 
oppositional movements. Thus it will be the movement to which many 
individuals will turn upon the arrival of a severe crisis in which people 
have become desperate and have lost all respect for and all confidence in 
the existing form of society. 



Anti-Tech Revolution 

Third, to help pave the way for this loss of respect and confidence, 
the movement should do what it can to undermine people’s faith in the 
technological system. This is likely to be the lightest of the movement’s 
burdens, because much of the work will be done without any effort on the 
part of the movement. For one thing, the system’s own failures will help to 
undermine confidence in it. For another, the spoken and written words of 
disenchanted intellectuals, especially those concerned with environmental 
issues, will act (and are already acting) to break down people’s confidence 
in the existing social order. Very few of these intellectuals are potential 
revolutionaries, 3 therefore an anti-tech movement should not support them 
directly. But the movement can promote the decline of confidence in the 
existing social order by calling attention to the pervasiveness and the irre¬ 
mediable character of the system’s failures and by making the system look 
weak or vulnerable whenever possible. 4 

In this chapter we will try to fill in some of the details of the picture 
that is roughly sketched in the foregoing paragraphs. 

2. Revolutions almost never are successfully planned out long in 
advance of their actual occurrence. This is merely one instance of the prin¬ 
ciple that specific historical events are, in general, unpredictable. 5 Irving 
Horowitz correctly observed that revolutions are carried out either without 
a previous program of action, or even in direct violation of such a program, 6 
and Herbert Matthews noted that “of all the revolutionary leaders of modern 
times, only Hitler outlined his program and stuck to it.” 7 Revolutionaries 
have to proceed by trial and error, and by grasping (usually unforeseen) 
opportunities as they arise. 8 As Lenin put it: “We often have to grope our 
way along... . Who could ever make a gigantic revolution, knowing in 
advance how to carry it through to the end?” 9 In January 1917, Lenin did 
not believe that any kind of revolution would be possible in Russia during 
his own lifetime. 10 He was able to make the Bolsheviks masters of Russia 
only because he had the acumen to recognize and exploit the unexpected 
opportunity presented by the February 1917 insurrection in St. Petersburg. 11 

3. Major opportunities, however, may be a long time in coming; the 
revolutionary movement may have to lie in wait for them. 12 This doesn’t 
mean that the movement can afford to relax and take it easy. On the con¬ 
trary, while it is waiting the movement must remain hard at work, not 
only to build its strength so that it will be able to take full advantage of 

Chapter Four: Section 4 


opportunities when they arrive, but also because an inactive movement will 
die or shrink to an apathetic rump. If a movement’s members are not kept 
occupied with purposeful work, most will lose interest and drift away. 13 

Another reason why the movement must remain active is that it 
is not enough for revolutionaries to wait passively for opportunities; the 
opportunities may have to be created in part by the revolutionaries them¬ 
selves. Some serious failure of the existing social order will probably have 
to occur independently of anything the revolutionaries can do, but whether 
such a failure is severe enough to provide an opportunity for overthrow of 
the system may depend on previous revolutionary activity. In Russia, for 
example, the underlying weakness of the tsarist regime was not caused by 
revolutionaries. But the opportunity for revolution was based on the regime’s 
defeat in World War I, and revolutionary activity may have contributed to 
that defeat, for “[i]n no other belligerent country were political conflicts 
waged as intensively during the war as in Russia, preventing the effective 
mobilization of the rear.” 14 Later, it was the spontaneous and unexpected 
insurrection of the workers of St. Petersburg that gave the Bolsheviks their 
great opportunity, and that insurrection probably would have been no more 
than a disorganized and ineffective outburst of frustration if the Bolsheviks 
had not previously indoctrinated the workers with Marxist ideas, 15 thus 
providing them with a theory and an ideal that made it possible for their 
insurrection to be purposeful, organized, and effective. 

4. From section 2, above, it follows that a revolutionary movement 
has to be prepared to respond successfully to the unexpected. If a program 
of action is to cover any appreciable span of time, the movement must not 
be committed to it in such a way that the program cannot be altered or 
discarded as unforeseen developments may require. In other words, the 
movement must maintain flexibility , 16 

Students of military tactics and strategy have long recognized the 
importance of flexibility. 17 Lenin demanded “tactical flexibility” in revolu¬ 
tionary work, 18 and Trotsky attributed the power of the Bolsheviks to the 
fact that they had “always united revolutionary implacableness with the 
greatest flexibility.” 19 Mao Zedong wrote: 

[I]n the practice of... changing society, men’s original ideas, theories, 
plans or programmes are seldom realized without any alteration. ... 
[I]deas, theories, plans or programmes are usually altered partially 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

and sometimes even wholly, because of the discovery of unforeseen 
circumstances in the course of practice. That is to say, it does happen 
that the original ideas, theories, plans or programmes fail to cor¬ 
respond with reality either in whole or in part and are wholly or 
partially incorrect. In many instances, failures have to be corrected 
many times before errors in knowledge can be corrected and... the 
anticipated results can be achieved in practice. ... 

...[T]rue revolutionary leaders must not only be good at cor¬ 
recting their ideas, theories, plans or programmes when errors are 
discovered, ... but... they must ensure that the proposed new revo¬ 
lutionary tasks and new working programmes correspond to the new 
changes in the situation. 20 

This is one way of describing the need for flexibility. 

5. As argued in Chapter Three, the single ultimate goal of a rev¬ 
olutionary movement today must be the total collapse of the worldwide 
technological system. 21 One of this writer’s correspondents has suggested 
that, because of the acute physical danger and hardship to which every¬ 
one would be exposed following a collapse of the technological system, 
a movement that takes such a collapse as its goal will be resisted by the 
overwhelming majority of the world’s population and therefore will be 
unable to accomplish anything. 

Undoubtedly, if you held a referendum today on the question of 
whether the system should be made to collapse, ninety percent, at the very 
least, of the inhabitants of industrialized countries would vote “no.” Even in 
a crisis situation in which people had lost all respect for and all confidence 
in the system, it may well be that a majority, though a much smaller one, 
would still vote against total collapse. But the assumption that this would be 
a serious obstacle to revolution is based on what we may call the “ democratic 
fallacy”: the notion that the number of people favoring one side or another 
determines the outcome of social struggles as it determines the outcome of 
democratic elections. Actually the outcome of social struggles is determined 
not primarily by numbers but by the dynamics of social movements. 

6. It goes without saying that the real revolutionaries—the members 
of the deeply committed cadre that forms the core of the movement—will 
be prepared to accept any amount of hardship and the greatest risk, or 

Chapter Four: Section 7 


even a certainty, of death in the service of their cause. We need only think 
of the early Christian martyrs; of A1 Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic 
suicide bombers; or of the assassins of the Russian Revolution. After a 
Social Revolutionary named Kalyaev assassinated a Russian grand duke in 
1905, the duke’s wife visited him in prison and told him: “Repent... and I 
will beg the sovereign to give you your life.” Kalyaev replied: “No! I do not 
repent. I must die for my deed and I will. ... My death will be more useful 
to my cause than [the grand duke’s] death.” 22 

Later, in 1918, when Fanny Kaplan put two bullets into Lenin, she 
surely realized that she would pay with her life. 23 Similarly, when Charlotte 
Corday assassinated Jean-Paul Marat during the French Revolution, she 
must have known that she would face the guillotine. 24 The extreme Irish 
nationalists who carried out the uprising of April 1916 certainly knew 
that they were taking desperate risks, and a minority among them were 
intentionally seeking martyrdom. Many of those who were subsequently 
executed “expressed in their last words... confidence that their deaths were 
a sort of triumph.” 25 

7. But it’s not only a tiny minority of hard-core revolutionaries who 
will accept suffering and the gravest risks in the service of what they regard 
as critically important goals. Many ordinary people become heroes and 
show astonishing courage when there is a severe disruption of their society 
or an acute threat to their most cherished values, or when they are inspired 
by what seems to them a noble purpose. 

It has been said that “man is capable of standing superhuman suffer¬ 
ing if only he feels sure that there is some point and purpose to it.” 26 This 
statement has been confirmed by experience, not only in the histories of 
the French, Russian, and other revolutions, but in many other situations 
as well. In World War II, for instance, the Russians never lost their will to 
resist in the face of the death, destruction, and savage cruelties inflicted on 
them by the German invaders. 27 For that matter, the morale of the German 
civilian population was never broken by the horrific Allied bombing cam¬ 
paigns that reduced many of their cities to rubble and sometimes killed tens 
of thousands of people in a single operation. 28 The Allied air-crews who 
carried out bombing and other missions in disputed air-space over Europe 
suffered in turn a frightful rate of attrition. For example, of the American 
pilots who undertook missions over German-occupied Poland during World 
War II, about three out of four were killed. 29 Yet the survivors kept flying. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Meanwhile, on the ground, many infantrymen suffered equal danger and 
far greater physical hardship, but they too continued to fight. 30 

Most of the civilians in the examples of the foregoing paragraph did 
not suffer hardship or danger voluntarily; they showed their courage merely 
by continuing to function well under the atrocious conditions imposed on 
them by circumstances beyond their control. Some of the military men no 
doubt volunteered for service, but probably many of these at the time they 
volunteered failed to appreciate fully what they were getting into. This was 
certainly the case with Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier 
of World War II, who was totally naive about war when he enlisted. 31 Yet 
there are abundant examples of people—not just a tiny minority of hard-core 
revolutionaries, but large numbers of more-or-less ordinary people—who 
in critical situations have voluntarily chosen to take desperate risks, with 
what we can assume was full knowledge of what they were risking, in the 
service of a cause or in fulfillment of what they believed to be their duty. 
In 1922, when the Irish War of Independence had gone on long enough 
so that its desperate and bloody character was unmistakable, there was 
still no shortage of recruits, “new eager young warriors anxious to emulate 
their elders.” 32 Nor does there seem to have been any shortage of recruits to 
the French and Polish resistance movements during World War II. These 
risked not only death, as the Irish did, but excruciating torture as well. 
Charles de Gaulle’s personal representative with the French Resistance, 
Jean Moulin, was captured and tortured to death by the Gestapo, 33 yet he 
never cracked, never gave up his secrets. 34 “In 1941 Free France had sent 
Captain Scamaroni to [Corsica] with a mission to prepare action there. 
... Unfortunately, our valiant delegate had fallen into the hands of the 
Italians... . Tortured horribly, Scamaroni had died to keep his secrets.” 35 

Even for causes in which they have no personal stake, some people 
will risk death, and worse. Thus thousands of non-Jewish Poles participated 
in efforts to savejews from the Nazis. In helpingjews the Poles risked death 
not only for themselves but for their families as well. 36 A Polish woman 
named Irena Sendler, credited with helping to save 2,500 Jewish children, 
“was captured by the Nazis in 1943 and tortured but refused to say who 
her co-conspirators were. During one session her captors broke her feet and 
legs... .” She survived only because her comrades in the Resistance bribed 
a Gestapo officer to help her escape. 37 

It should be noted, too, that whether they are hard-core revolution¬ 
aries or ordinary people, whether they assume their risks voluntarily or 

Chapter Four: Section 7 


involuntarily, many of those who go through extreme danger or hardship for 
what they believe to be worthy purposes experience deep fulfillment from 
their “heroic” activities. They may even enjoy them. A former inmate of a 
German prisoner-of-war camp in World War II wrote of his unsuccessful 
and eventually successful attempts to escape: 

I feel I have quaffed deeply of the intoxicating cup of excitement... . 
I can think of no sport that is the peer of escape, where freedom, 
life, and loved ones are the prize of victory, and death the possible 
though by no means inevitable price of failure. 38 

As World War II drew to a close: 

Apart from the Communist leaders, who aimed at a definite goal, 
the resistance fighters as a whole were somewhat disoriented. As 
the enemy withdrew... they had been tempted, like Goethe’s Faust, 
to say to the moment, ‘Stay, you are so splendid!’... Nostalgia was 
upon them. Especially since these ardent and adventurous men had 
experienced, in the height of danger, the somber attractions of the 
clandestine struggle, which they would not renounce. 39 

Much more recently, with the arrival of peace in Northern Ireland, 
the withdrawal of these same “somber attractions” seems to have had a 
decidedly negative effect on the youth of that country. In 2009 a journalist 
reported his conversations with a Catholic priest, Father Aidan Troy: 

[T]he suicide rate among Belfast’s youth has risen sharply since the 
Troubles ended, largely because, the priest believes, the sense of 
camaraderie and shared struggle provided by the paramilitary groups 
has been replaced by ennui and despair. ‘So many young people get 
into drinking and drugs early on,’ Troy says. 40 

Celia Sanchez, who had been a revolutionary guerrillera in Cuba, 
reminisced in 1965 about the dangers and hardships she had gone through 
with Fidel Castro’s band in the Sierra Maestra: “Ah, but those were the 
best times, weren’t they? We were all so very happy then. Really. We will 
never be so happy again, will we? Never... .” 41 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

In an otherwise rather maudlin article, an American veteran of the 
Iraq war conceded that his return to civilian life had its drawbacks: “I miss 
that daily sense of purpose, survive or die, that simply can’t be replicated 
in everyday existence.” 42 

8. The purpose of the foregoing examples is not to glorify danger, 
suffering, or warfare. Their purpose is to show that people—even the 
members of modern technological society, who in normal times are oriented 
primarily toward security and comfort—will not necessarily choose the 
easiest road, or the one that seems least dangerous in the short term, when 
their society is in turmoil, when they are desperate, angry, or horrified 
at the turn that events are taking, or when it no longer seems possible to 
maintain their habitual pattern of living. Under such circumstances many 
will choose a heroic course of action, even a course that subjects themselves 
and their loved ones to the greatest risks and hardships... if only there are 
leaders who can energize them, organize them, and give them a sense of 
purpose. It will be the task of revolutionaries to provide that kind of lead¬ 
ership when the system arrives at a crisis. 

At such a time, if the revolutionaries have done and continue to do 
their work well, they should be able to attract wide support in spite of all the 
risks and hardships that the revolutionary program entails. This is not to say 
that the revolutionaries will succeed in winning the support of a majority 
of the population. It’s much more likely that they will be able to organize 
and lead only a fairly small minority. But “it is not always the physical 
majority that is decisive; rather, it is superiority of moral force that tips the 
political balance.” (Simon Bolivar). 43 In the event of a sufficiently serious 
failure of the existing social order the vast majority of the population will 
lose all respect for it and all confidence in it, hence will make no effective 
effort to defend it. Alinsky stated the case very clearly when he wrote that 
the “time is... ripe for revolution” when 

masses of our people have reached the point of disillusionment with 
past ways and values. They don’t know what will work but they do 
know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating, and 
hopeless. They won’t act for change but won’t strongly oppose those 
who do. 44 

Chapter Four: Section 9 


Under these circumstance a great many people will have become 
hopeless, apathetic, and passive, while most of the rest will be concerned 
only to save their own skins and those of their loved ones. It is to be expected 
that the existing power-structure will be in disarray, disoriented, and riven 
by internal conflict, so that it will do a poor job of organizing and leading 
any small minority that may still be motivated to defend the system. If, 
therefore, the revolutionaries act effectively to inspire, organize, and lead 
their own minority, they will hold the decisive share of power. 

9. A failure of the existing social order may not always be needed to 
provide revolutionaries with an opportunity. It’s not clear that there was 
any grave failure of the social order in Ireland prior to the revolution of 
1916-1922; certainly the British authorities against whom the revolution 
was directed were by no means in disarray or otherwise weak. Yet the 
revolution did occur. 45 Ordinarily, however, an opportunity for revolution 
depends on some serious failure of the existing social order. 

The Reformation was possible only because the corruption of the 
Catholic Church led many people to lose their respect for it. The revolu¬ 
tions of the early 19th century that won independence for Spain’s American 
colonies probably would not have occurred if the weakness of the Spanish 
monarchy had not been demonstrated through its defeat by Napoleon 
and in other ways. The Chinese revolution of 1911 was largely a result of 
the repeated humiliations inflicted on China by the Western powers and 
Japan, against which the Manchu (or Qing, Ch’ing) Dynasty was unable 
to defend itself. The Russian revolutionaries were given their opportunity 
by the ignominious military defeats of the Tsarist regime in World War 
I. In Germany, the Nazis were a minor party up to the onset of the Great 
Depression; Hitler was able to seize power only because the German gov¬ 
ernment was weak and unable to deal with the economic crisis. 46 

In each of the foregoing examples there undoubtedly was a broadly 
generalized loss of respect for the prevailing social order, and in the 
last two cases it is probably safe to say that there was widespread anger 
and desperation on the part of some people, hopelessness on the part of 
others. In today’s world a prerequisite for revolution most likely will be 
a situation of the latter type, involving widespread anger, desperation, 
and hopelessness. Revolutionaries need to be capable of making use of 
such a situation. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

To illustrate with a hypothetical example, let’s suppose that in the 
coming decades the replacement of human workers by increasingly advanced 
technology will lead to severe, chronic unemployment throughout the tech¬ 
nologically developed part of the world. 47 This will not necessarily produce 
a crisis serious enough to endanger the existence of the system, for people 
will tend to react to chronic unemployment with apathy, passivity, and 
hopelessness. There will be anger, too, which may lead to riots like those 
recently seen in Spain and Greece, 48 but these poorly organized, largely 
purposeless outbursts of frustration (really manifestations of hopelessness) 
accomplished little or nothing. 

Compare this ineffectual rioting with the “Arab Spring” revolution 
in Egypt (2011), in which intelligent leadership harnessed people’s anger 
and made it into a tool for the extraction of major concessions from the 
power-structure. The Egyptian revolution may prove to be a failure in the 
end, 49 but for present purposes that is irrelevant. The point here is simply 
that skillful revolutionary leaders can harness people’s anger and frustration 
and turn it to useful purposes. 

Anti-tech revolutionaries, of course, can’t be satisfied with extracting 
concessions from the power-structure; they have to bring it down altogether. 
If, as we’ve hypothesized, there is severe, long-lasting unemployment 
throughout the technologically advanced part of the world, most of those 
who still have jobs will be frightened and will have lost their respect for 
the system, but will be motivated only to hold on to their jobs as long 
as they can. The unemployed will be either apathetic and hopeless, or 
angry and desperate, or both. If there is widespread rioting it will put the 
power-structure under stress, but will not seriously threaten its survival. 
Well-prepared revolutionaries, however, should be capable of organization 
and leadership that will put people’s anger and desperation to work, not in 
mere rioting, but for purposeful action. From our present standpoint the 
nature of the purposeful action can only be a matter for conjecture, but, just 
to take a speculative example, the revolutionaries might extract concessions 
from the power-structure as the Egyptians did, with the difference that 
the concessions would have to go far enough so that they would deeply 
humiliate the power-structure. This could be expected to break down the 
morale of the individuals comprising the power-structure and lead to sharp 
internal divisions and conflicts within the power-structure, throwing it into 
disarray. Once this stage had been reached, the prospects for the overthrow 
of the power-structure would be excellent. 

Chapter Four: Section 10 


But let’s remember that the foregoing scenario represents a purely 
hypothetical route to revolution that we’ve offered only for illustrative pur¬ 
poses. Revolution may take a very different route in reality. 

10. It is important to recognize that a successful revolutionary 
movement may start out as a tiny and despised group of “crackpots” who 
are taken seriously by no one but themselves. The movement may remain 
insignificant and powerless for many years before it finds its opportunity 
and achieves success. “Beliefs that are potentially revolutionary may exist 
temporally long before strain arises to activate these beliefs as determinants 
of a value-oriented movement; revolutionary organizations may lie in wait 
for conditions of conduciveness, upon which they then capitalize.” 50 

In 1847 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were just a couple of eccen¬ 
trics who prepared the Communist Manifesto for an obscure group called 
the Communist League, which had only a few hundred members and soon 
dissolved. 51 In Ireland, nationalist ideas were kept alive for several decades 
only by a minuscule minority of extremists who had very little support 
among the general population until the uprising of April 1916 reactivated 
the revolutionary process. 52 

Fidel Castro said, “I began a revolution with eighty-two men. If I 
had to do it again, I would do it with ten or fifteen and absolute faith.” 53 
Castro actually started his revolution with only about a dozen men, because 
three days after he landed in Cuba with his eighty-two they were attacked 
by the forces of the dictator, Batista; nearly all were killed or captured, and 
no more than twelve, or possibly fifteen, 54 were left to carry on the struggle 
in the Sierra Maestra. Even at its peak two years later the guerrilla band 
amounted to only about 800 men, as against Batista’s army of 30,000. 55 
Yet Castro won. 

Such a victory of course could not be a purely military one, nor was 
it achieved by Castro’s guerrilleros alone. Castro’s victory was primarily 
a political one, and was possible only because the Cuban people had no 
respect for or confidence in the Batista regime. The dictator was politically 
incompetent and unable to retain the loyalty even of his own army, which 
proved itself decidedly reluctant to fight the rebels. And Batista was really 
overthrown by a coalition of forces, of which Castro’s guerrilla band was 
not the only important component. What enabled Castro to prevail over 
the other elements of the coalition and emerge as master of Cuba was 
his skill as a politician, propagandist, and organizer. While his military 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

action played an indispensable role, it did so mainly through its political 
and psychological effect. 56 

The point to be emphasized here, though, is that when Castro, lead¬ 
ing his tiny band of a dozen men, looked up at the Sierra Maestra and said, 
“Now Batista will be defeated!,” 57 most people would have thought him 
mad. Yet Batista was indeed defeated and Castro did take control of Cuba. 

In Russia at the beginning of the 20th century the revolutionaries 
comprised an insignificant minority and were regarded as “cranks.” 58 The 
Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, of which the Bolsheviks formed 
a part, consisted of only a few hundred individuals. 59 According to Lenin: 

Prior to January 22... 1905, the revolutionary party of Russia con¬ 
sisted of a small handful of people, and the reformists of those days... 
derisively called us a ‘sect’. ... Within a few months, however, the 
picture completely changed. The hundreds of revolutionary Social 
Democrats ‘suddenly’ grew into thousands; the thousands became 
leaders of between two and three million proletarians... . 60 

The 1905 revolution was a failure, but it did help prepare the way for 
the successful revolution of 1917. Up to the latter year, nevertheless, the 
Bolsheviks remained weak. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, three 
of the seven members of their St. Petersburg committee were police spies, 
and soon afterward the Bolsheviks’ centralized organization was destroyed 
by the arrest of their delegates in the Duma (the Russian parliament). 61 On 
the very eve of the opening episode of the 1917 revolution the Bolshevik 
leaders were scattered in exile, and no one (except possibly the police) paid 
any attention to them. 62 But less than a year later they had made them¬ 
selves masters of the vast Russian Empire—something like one-sixth of 
the world’s land surface. 

The Bolsheviks had prepared themselves long in advance of the out¬ 
break of the revolution. They had built a cohesive cadre of professional 
revolutionists who were disciplined, purposeful, strongly motivated, well 
led, and reasonably unified. The Bolsheviks were effective organizers, and, 
because they understood better than anyone else the dynamics of social 
movements, they formulated policies that proved to be successful. Their 
chief rivals, the far more numerous Social Revolutionaries, were deficient 
in these qualities. 63 “[WJhereas the agitation of the Mensheviks and Social 
Revolutionaries was scattered, self-contradictory and oftenest of all evasive, 

Chapter Four: Section 10 


the agitation of the Bolsheviks was distinguished by its concentrated and 
well thought-out character.” 64 Trotsky describes how, in one county, three or 
four Bolsheviks were sufficient to prevail over the much larger but relatively 
timid Social Revolutionary organization. 65 “The lack of correspondence 
between the technical resources of the Bolsheviks and their relative political 
weight [found] its expression in the small number of members of the party 
compared to the colossal growth of its influence.” 66 

Meanwhile, the “bourgeois-democratic” reformists (Kerensky et al.) 
were not even in the running, because they lacked unity and concentrated 
purpose and seem to have had no conception of what was and what was not 
possible in a time of passionate upheaval such as that which gripped Russia 
in 1917. As for the defenders of the old Tsarist order, to the extent that 
there were any left in Russia they were in total disarray and psychologically 
defeated. Consequently, the Bolsheviks were able to overwhelm all their 
adversaries and make themselves the dominant political force in Russia. 

All this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Bolsheviks had the sup¬ 
port—much less the active support—of a majority of Russians. The support 
of the peasants was shaky at best, and existed only when the Bolsheviks 
were (temporarily) giving them what they wanted. 67 But once the Bolsheviks 
had seized power in October 68 1917, the only organized and effective resis¬ 
tance to them originated outside Russia with the numerous emigres who 
opposed the revolution. These assembled counterrevolutionary armies and, 
supported by several foreign powers, invaded Russia with the intention of 
ousting the Bolsheviks. During the ensuing Civil War of 1918-1920: “The 
rate of desertions in the Red Army was unusually high: Trotsky instituted 
a veritable reign of terror to prevent defections, including placing in the 
rear of the troops machine-gun detachments with instructions to shoot 
retreating units.” 69 But obviously the Bolsheviks couldn’t have maintained 
their control over a disaffected majority without the loyal support of at least 
a substantial minority; those machine-gunners wouldn’t have been willing 
to shoot down their fellow soldiers on orders from Trotsky if they hadn’t 
been committed to the Bolshevik cause. The Bolsheviks moreover had their 
minority well organized and disciplined; 70 consequently they prevailed over 
the invaders, who were not so well organized. 71 

It’s important to notice that the crucial events of the Russian 
Revolution took place in St. Petersburg. This was true of the spontaneous 
insurrection of February 1917 and also of the Bolsheviks’ seizure of power 
the following October. Thus the Bolsheviks were able to concentrate their 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

efforts on a single city; once they had won i n St. Petersburg the rest of the 
country was relatively easy. 72 This shows how victory at the single most 
critical point can provide a basis for the assumption of power throughout 
an entire society—a further reason why it is possible for a numerically small 
revolutionary movement to prevail. 

11. To summarize, the expected pattern for a revolution against the 
technological system will be something like the following: 

A. A small movement, a cohesive cadre of committed, hard-core 
revolutionaries, will build its internal strength by developing its own orga¬ 
nization and discipline. This movement should have branches in several 
of the world’s most important nations or groups of nations; say, the United 
States, China, Western Europe, and one or more of Russia, Latin America, 
and India. In each country, the movement will prepare the way for revolu¬ 
tion by disseminating ideas—ideas that will be chosen for their soundness 
and not for their popularity. The movement will take pains to demonstrate 
the most uncompromising revolutionary integrity, and will strive to prove 
itself the most effective of all the factions opposed to the existing system. 

B. A large minority of the general population will recognize that 
the revolutionaries’ ideas have some merit. But this minority will reject the 
revolutionaries’ solutions, if only through reluctance to change familiar ways 
of living or as a result of cowardice or apathy. 

C. Eventually there will arrive a crisis, or a failure of the system 
serious enough to enable the revolutionaries to create a crisis, in which it 
will no longer be possible to carry on with familiar ways of living, and in 
which the system’s ability to provide for people’s physical and psycholog¬ 
ical needs will be impaired to such an extent that most people will lose 
all respect for and all confidence in the existing social order, while many 
individuals will become desperate or angry. Their desperation and anger 
will soon degenerate into despair and apathy—unless the revolutionaries 
are able to step in at that point and inspire them with a sense of purpose, 
organize them, and channel their fear, desperation, and anger into practical 
action. Because these people will be desperate or angry and because they will 
have been energized by the revolutionaries, the risk to themselves, however 
great it maybe, will not deter them from striving to bring down the system. 

D. Even so, the revolutionary movement will probably be able to gain 
the active support only of some fairly small minority of the population. But 

Chapter Four: Section 12 


the great majority will be either hopeless and apathetic or else motivated 
merely to save their own skins, so they will not act to defend the system. 

E. The established authorities meanwhile will be disoriented, fright¬ 
ened, or discouraged, and therefore incapable of organizing an effective 
defense. Consequently, power will be in the hands of the revolutionaries. 

F. By the time revolutionaries have taken power in one nation—for 
example, the United States—globalization will have proceeded even farther 
than it has today, and nations will be even more interdependent than they 
are now. 73 Consequently, when revolutionaries have brought the technolog¬ 
ical system to an abrupt halt in the United States, the economy of the entire 
world will be severely disrupted and the acute crisis that results will give 
the anti-tech revolutionaries of all nations the opportunity that they need. 

G. It is extremely important to realize that when the moment for 
decisive action arrives (as at C, above) the revolutionaries must recognize it, and 
then must press forward without any hesitation, vacillation, doubts, or scruples to 
the achievement of their ultimate goal. Hesitation or vacillation would throw 
the movement into disarray and would confuse and discourage its members. 
(We will return to this point in a moment.) 

The pattern we have just outlined is a very broad and general one that 
can accommodate a wide variety of routes to revolutionary success. Even so, 
given the unpredictability of historical events, it is impossible to know for 
certain whether the route that a revolutionary movement will actually take 
will Fit within the pattern we’ve described. But the pattern is an entirely 
plausible one, and it provides an answer to those who think the system is 
too big and strong ever to be overthrown. Moreover, the preparatory work 
that we have briefly indicated above, at A, will be appropriate for almost 
any route to revolution that a movement might take in reality. 

12. Let’s return to point G, above: that the revolutionaries must 
avoid all hesitation or vacillation when the moment for decisive action 
arrives. The leaders of the movement must be astute enough to recognize 
the arrival of that moment. Trotsky claims that in a revolutionary situation 
there is a particular interval of time, limited to a few weeks or at most a few 
months, during which a society is primed for insurrection. Any attempt 
to bring about an insurrection must be undertaken during that interval or 
the opportunity will be lost. 74 So says Trotsky, and we may accept that this 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

is true as a general rule (though of course all such rules have exceptions). 
Trotsky was speaking only of insurrections, but it should be obvious that a 
similar rule applies to many other kinds of revolutionary actions: One can 
hope to carry them out successfully only when circumstances are favorable 
for them, and since circumstances change rapidly when a society is in crisis 
one must act at the right time; to act too soon or too late will lead to failure. 

Here we are concerned mainly with the right moment to begin orga¬ 
nizing on a mass basis for the final push toward the overthrow of the 
existing social order (as at C, above), a push that may or may not involve 
one or more insurrections but almost certainly will not consist merely of a 
single insurrection. The critical interval of time may be difficult to identify. 
“Lenin... greatly feared excessive caution, ... a letting slip of one of those 
historic occasions which are decades in preparation.” 75 On the other hand, 
if the revolutionaries act prematurely they may suffer a disastrous defeat. 
Only an assiduous study of history and of revolutionary theory, with careful 
and thoughtful observation of current events, can develop the judgment 
necessary for recognition of the critical interval during which the push 
toward consummation of the revolution can be successfully initiated. 

But let’s assume that the revolutionaries have correctly noted the 
arrival of the time to begin organizing on a mass basis for the final push. 
Once that stage has been reached, certain guidelines need to be taken into 

Alinsky maintains that the organizers of a mass movement must “act 
in terms of specific resolutions and answers, of definiteness and certainty. 
To do otherwise would be to stifle organization and action, for what the 
organizer accepts as uncertainty would be seen by [the people he is organiz¬ 
ing] as a terrifying chaos.” 76 Trotsky warns against “indecisiveness”: “The 
party of revolution dare not waver—no more than a surgeon dare who has 
plunged a knife into a sick body.” 77 Here Trotsky refers to the final stage of 
a revolutionary process, when the existing social order is in a state of crisis 
and the revolutionaries are aiming directly at its overthrow. Throughout 
this stage there is a need to maintain momentum'. Alinsky emphasizes that 
a mass movement has to remain constantly in action, avoid defeats, and 
keep its adversaries under unremitting pressure. 78 Trotsky says that a revo¬ 
lutionary process can continue only “so long as the swing of the movement 
does not run into objective obstacles. When it does, there begins a reaction: 
disappointments of the different layers of the revolutionary class, growth 

Chapter Four: Section 12 


of indifferentism and therewith a strengthening of the position of the 
counter-revolutionary forces.” 79 

However, the rule that momentum should be maintained is not 
unqualified: Revolutionaries should not, for the sake of momentum, under¬ 
take a major action prematurely. In July 1917 the Bolsheviks intentionally 
aborted an insurrection in St. Petersburg because theyjudged that the time 
was not ripe for it. Their action temporarily checked the momentum of 
the revolutionary process and led to a severe setback for the Bolsheviks, 
but it averted the utterly disastrous setback that would have ensued if the 
insurrection had actually been attempted. 80 Nothing in this is inconsistent 
with the rule that revolutionaries must act decisively and without vacillation: 
The Bolsheviks did indeed act decisively to abort an insurrection that they 
had done nothing to instigate and that they knew was untimely. 

Alinsky stresses the importance of avoiding moral ambiguity. The 
organizers of a mass movement need to delineate issues in black and white: 
Their own cause must be pure, noble, unequivocally good, while their 
adversaries represent nothing but evil. 81 All of the movement’s actions are 
automatically presumed to be fully justified, for any vacillation on moral 
or humanitarian grounds would be as fatal as vacillation on any other 
grounds. The fact that vacillation on moral or humanitarian grounds was 
likely to be fatal in any life-and-death conflict 82 was understood by some 
of our most admired statesmen and soldiers—those who led the Western 
democracies when they were locked in struggles for survival. E.g., Lincoln 
and Grant during the U.S. Civil War, or Churchill and Roosevelt during 
World War II. 

Similarly, it is a fatal error to delay action, or to act timidly, in order to 
avoid offending people. For example: The Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks 
were the two revolutionary parties derived from the split in the Russian 
Social Democratic Labor Party. In the period immediately following the 
St. Petersburg insurrection of February 1917, Trotsky says, “the official 
Social Democratic program was still... common to the Bolsheviks and 
the Mensheviks, [and] the practical tasks of the democratic revolution 
looked the same on paper to both parties.” But, while the Bolsheviks 
promptly undertook radical measures, the Mensheviks temporized in 
order to avoid antagonizing the bourgeoisie and the liberals. 83 In general, 
according to Trotsky, the behavior of the “Compromisers” ( = Menshevik 
and Social Revolutionary leaders 84 ) was “evasive.” “The Compromisers 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

talked themselves out of difficulties; the Bolsheviks went to meet them.” 85 
The Compromisers’ tactics would have been appropriate under normal 
circumstances in a functioning parliamentary democracy, but in a revo¬ 
lutionary situation those same tactics were sure losers. So of course it was 
the Bolsheviks who came out on top. 

The remarks in the last four paragraphs are intended to provide 
general guidelines for hard-core revolutionaries to take into consideration 
in the process of acquiring and leading a mass following when the system 
moves into a state of crisis; it is the volatile mass that will be incapable of 
tolerating uncertainty, moral ambiguity, defeats, or periods of inactivity. 
During the earlier stages of the movement’s life, while it is diligently and 
patiently preparing the way for revolution, the hard-core revolutionaries, 
the committed cadre, will have to be able to endure—up to a point—the 
uncertainties that will inevitably arise, as well as the long periods without 
spectacular activity and the tactical defeats that will occur. But once the 
revolutionary process has arrived at its final stage—the time of crisis during 
which the revolutionaries are pushing directly toward the overthrow of the 
system—the committed cadre must strive to eliminate even within its own 
ranks all uncertainties, hesitations, vacillations, doubts, and scruples. For 
one thing, such internal vacillations would inevitably be communicated to 
the revolutionaries’ mass following. For another, at this critical time it will 
be especially important for the committed cadre to be capable of prompt, 
decisive, unified action, and such action will be rendered impossible by 
vacillations or disagreements within the cadre. If vacillations or disagree¬ 
ments are long continued, even the most deeply committed revolutionaries 
may lose heart. 

In practice, of course, vacillations and disagreements will probably 
arise among the revolutionary leaders even during the final push toward 
overthrow of the system. The revolutionaries will need to resolve these 
conflicts quickly and completely, so that they can show unity in action 
and provide their mass following with consistent, unambiguous, decisive 
leadership. “The high temper of the Bolshevik party expressed itself not in 
an absence of disagreements, waverings, and even quakings, but in the fact 
that in the most difficult circumstances it gathered itself in good season by 
means of inner crises, and made good its opportunity to interfere decisively 
in the course of events.” 86 

As always, the reader must remember that in the real world events are 
unpredictable. The preceding paragraphs provide only general guidelines, 

Chapter Four: Section 13 


not rigid rules that can be applied mechanically. The guidelines may have 
to be modified to adapt them to the concrete situations that will arise in 
the practice of revolutionary politics. 

13. One possible cause of hesitation on the part of revolutionaries 
needs to be addressed. Some time ago this writer received a letter from an 
individual who asked whether revolutionaries should strive to bring about 
the collapse of the technological system even though the chaos attendant 
on the collapse would entail an increased risk of nuclear war. The answer 
is that revolutionaries should not be deterred by such a risk. 

First, the proliferation of nuclear weapons to unstable or irresponsible 
countries (e.g., Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, possibly Myanmar) contin¬ 
ues and is unlikely to be permanently halted. 87 Consequently, the risk of 
nuclear war can only increase as long as the technological system survives, 
and the sooner the system collapses the less will be the risk of nuclear war 
in the long run. 

Second, though many people assume that a major nuclear war would 
result in the extinction of the human race and of most species of mammals, 
that assumption is probably incorrect. Undoubtedly the consequences of 
such a war would be horrible, but serious students of these matters do not 
believe that most species of mammals would be completely wiped out or 
that the human race would disappear. 88 

Third, if nothing intervenes to prevent the technological system from 
proceeding to its logical conclusion, there is every reason to believe that the 
eventual result will be a planet uninhabitable for all of the more complex 
forms of life as we know them today. See Chapter Two, Part IV. So if we 
had to choose between a major nuclear war and the continued existence of 
the system, we would have to take nuclear war as the lesser evil. 

Fourth, if we allow the defenders of the system to deter us with the 
threat of nuclear war or of any other dire consequences, then we may as well 
give up. A revolutionary movement can’t be successful if it allows its pursuit 
of its objective to be limited by reservations or qualifications of any kind, 
for these can only lead to fatal hesitation at critical times. Revolutionaries 
must take their goal to be the collapse of the system no matter what. You 
have to make a decision: Is the elimination of the technological system 
worth all of the desperate risks and terrifying disasters that it will entail? 
If you don’t have the courage to answer “yes” to that question, then you’d 
better quit whining about the evils and hardships of the modern world 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

and just adapt yourself to them as best you can, because nothing short of 
the collapse of the system will ever get us off the road that we are on now. 

14. In sections 12 and 13 we’ve offered some guidelines for revolu¬ 
tionary action to be taken upon the arrival of an acute crisis of the system. 
Remaining to be discussed is the long preparatory period during which the 
movement builds its strength for the final push toward revolution. 

In a revolutionary situation—as we’ve pointed out already in section 
1—victory is determined not primarily by numbers but by the dynamics 
of social movements. In section 10 we’ve seen examples of numerically 
tiny movements that have initiated successful revolutions. A small but 
well-organized, 89 unified, and deeply committed movement will have a far 
better chance of success than will a vastly larger movement that lacks these 
characteristics. In other words, quality is more important than quantity. 90 
Consequently, while an organization is building its strength for a future 
revolution, it must strictly subordinate the goal of increasing its numbers 
to that of recruiting high-quality people who are capable of total commit¬ 
ment to the cause. Their commitment must be exclusive; they must have 
no competing loyalty to any other cause. Because the membership of the 
revolutionary organization has to be limited, as far as possible, to people 
of this type, selectiveness in recruitment is essential. 91 

15. If the goal of revolutionaries is the complete elimination of the 
technological society, then they must discard the values and the morality of 
that society and replace them with new values and a new morality designed 
to serve the purposes of revolution. 92 Trotsky put it this way: 

Bolshevism created the type of the authentic revolutionist who 
subordinates [his ideas and his moral judgments] to historic goals 
irreconcilable with contemporary society... . [T]he Bolshevik party 
created not only a political but a moral medium of its own, indepen¬ 
dent of bourgeois social opinion and implacably opposed to it. Only 
this permitted the Bolsheviks to overcome the waverings in their own 
ranks and reveal in action that courageous determination without 
which the October [Revolution] would have been impossible. 93 

Suitable recruits to the revolutionary movement will include only 
those who are prepared to abandon the old values and morality and adopt 

Chapter Four: Section 17 


in their place the revolutionary values and morality. The revolutionary mes¬ 
sage needs to be addressed to and designed for, not the general public, but 
the small minority of people who have the potential to become committed 
members of the revolutionary organization. 

16. It follows that the revolutionaries should never retreat from their 
extreme positions for the sake of popularity or to avoid offending the moral 
or other sensibilities of the general public. 94 If the revolutionary organization 
were to dilute its message or prevaricate in order to avoid offending people 
it would discourage its own members and lose their respect, weakening 
their commitment to the organization; it would lose the respect of the 
best kind of potential recruits while attracting many who were incapable 
of total commitment to the organization; and it would lose the respect 
of the general public. A revolutionary organization should seek not to be 
liked, but to be respected, and it should have no aversion to being hated 
and feared. Mao regarded hatred of a revolutionary organization as a sign 
that it was effective. 95 It is to such an organization that many people will 
turn in a time of crisis when they have lost all confidence in the existing 
social order and are desperate or angry. 

17. Revolutionaries will not suddenly become effective agitators, pro¬ 
pagandists, organizers and leaders at the moment when the system reaches 
a crisis. They will need to begin developing these abilities through practical 
experience long before the crisis arrives. In order to acquire such experience, 
revolutionaries will have to involve themselves in political efforts that are 
peripheral to the central issue of technology. For example, an anti-tech 
organization might join other groups in addressing some environmental 
issue of special importance—though it will be necessary for the revolution¬ 
aries to make very clear that the environmental issue is a sideshow and that 
the long-term goal must be to eliminate the entire technological system. 

In all such activities the revolutionary organization should strive 
to prove itself more determined and more effective than the other groups 
involved, for when a crisis arrives the organization will more readily acquire 
a mass following if it has already demonstrated its superior effectiveness. 
“[I]n the course of struggle... broad masses must learn from experience that 
we fight better than the others, that we see more clearly than the others, 
that we are more audacious and resolute.” 96 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Another way revolutionaries can acquire practical experience will 
be through the publication of a newspaper or journal devoted to anti-tech 
work. Lenin wrote: 

A paper is not merely a collective propagandist and collective agita¬ 
tor, it is also a collective organizer.... With the aid of, and around a 
paper, there will automatically develop an organization that will be 
concerned, not only with local activities, but also with regular, general 
work; it will teach its members carefully to watch political events, to 
estimate their importance and their influence on the various sections 
of the population, and to devise suitable methods to influence these 
events through the revolutionary party. The mere technical problem 
of procuring a regular supply of material for the newspaper and its 
regular distribution will make it necessary to create a network of 
agents... who will be in close contact with each other... , 97 

Nowadays, of course, a newspaper or journal will likely be published 
not only in print but also on the Internet; or perhaps even on the Internet 

18. In order to be effective, a revolutionary organization must be 
capable of unity in action. As Fidel Castro put it: “No one can expect 
anything useful from an organization comprised of anarchic men who, at 
the first disagreement, seek their own road, breaking and destroying the 
machine.” Consequently, Castro put great importance on discipline. 98 

Stalin stressed the need for “unity of will” and “absolute and complete 
unity of action on the part of all members of the Party.” He set forth an 
admirable theory: 

[Unity] does not mean of course that there will never be any conflict 
of opinion within the Party. On the contrary, iron discipline does not 
preclude but presupposes criticism and conflicts of opinion within 
the Party. Least of all does it mean that this discipline must be 
‘blind’ discipline. On the contrary iron discipline does not preclude 
but presupposes conscious and voluntary submission, for only con¬ 
scious discipline can be truly iron discipline. But after a discussion 
has been closed, after criticism has run its course and a decision has 
been made, unity of will and unity of action become indispensable 

Chapter Four: Section 18 


conditions without which Party unity and iron discipline in the Party 
are inconceivable." 

Needless to say, Stalin was concerned above all to maintain his own 
power, and consequently he never allowed the democratic aspect of the 
foregoing theory to be put into practice. But this need not prevent us from 
recognizing that the theory itself—that decisions are to be arrived at with 
free discussion and criticism throughout the organization, after which 
all members will be expected to obey the decisions that have been made 
whether or not they personally agree with them—is an excellent one for a 
revolutionary organization to follow. 

Nelson Mandela would have agreed with Stalin’s theory (though not, 
of course, with Stalin’s practice), for he “believed passionately in democracy” 
within the African National Congress, 100 yet insisted on party discipline: 
Once a decision had been made by the organization, all members had to 
comply with it. “Having subjugated his own will to the movement, he was 
determined that others should do so too.” 101 

But it has to be conceded that in practical terms the theory is not 
as democratic as it sounds. First, many decisions will need to be made 
quickly, with no time for discussion by the rank and file. The organization 
will have to have some sort of executive body that is empowered to make 
such decisions, and the rank and file will have to obey the decisions so 
made. Second, even when there is sufficient time, the organization can’t 
be effective if many decisions are made by a simple head-count, so many 
votes on one side, so many on the other. However offensive it may be to our 
democratic sensibilities, the plain truth is that some individuals will have 
vastly more knowledge and experience relevant to the functioning of the 
organization than others will. Every member of the organization should be 
listened to, but the main responsibility for decision-making will have to rest 
with a relatively small group of leaders 102 comprising those members who 
are best informed and have the highest level of political and organizational 
skill. Thus, an effective revolutionary organization will require a significant 
measure of hierarchy and discipline. 

The so-called “democratic” countries in today’s world are in reality 
governed by political parties. In even the most democratic of these parties, 
decisions are made primarily by a limited inner circle of leaders 103 who pay 
only as much attention as they think expedient to the opinions of the rank 
and file. A close approximation to true democracy can exist only in societies 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

organized on a very small scale, such as the nomadic bands of African 
pygmies. 104 In any modern, large-scale society, a political organization that 
attempts to maintain a truly democratic internal structure will condemn 
itself to impotence. 

19. Recognition of the importance of unity might lead to an erro¬ 
neous conclusion, namely, that a revolutionary organization should never 
split when there are disagreements over principles, strategy, or tactics. Of 
course, a faction shouldn’t split from its parent organization for slight rea¬ 
sons or while there is a good prospect of resolving disagreements through 
discussion, or when there is an acute, immediate need to present a united 
front against adversaries. But an organization cannot be trulyunified when 
there is within it a persistent, irreconcilable disagreement over a ques¬ 
tion of far-reaching importance. If such a disagreement develops among 
the members of a revolutionary organization, and if there is no apparent 
likelihood of resolving the disagreement within a reasonable time, it will 
usually be best if the dissident minority separates itself from the parent 
group. This will leave the parent group and the minority each with its 
own independent unity. If the minority is wrong it presumably will remain 
weak, while the parent group leads the revolution. On the other hand, if 
the minority’s view is proven right through practice, then the minority can 
be expected to assume leadership when the time is ripe and leave its parent 
organization in the dust. 

Lenin said, “We must not be afraid to be a minority,” 105 and he never 
hesitated to act accordingly when he was sure he was right. Trotsky makes 
clear that Lenin always insisted on pursuing his own line no matter what 
the rest of the Bolsheviks thought. Lenin preferred to be a member of a 
small minority that was right rather than compromise his views in order to 
get broader support. 106 Thus he and his Bolsheviks, though they constituted 
a minority within the Social Democratic Party, split from their rivals, the 
Mensheviks (effectively in 1903, formally in 1912) and took their own 
road. 107 Because their road turned out to be the right one, they eventually 
prevailed over the Mensheviks. 

Again, at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Lenin adopted and 
maintained an anti-war position and even advocated “transforming the 
imperialist war into civil war,” despite the fact that he was supported in 
this only by his “closest comrades,” who comprised “a minority within the 
group of anti-war Socialists, who, in turn, constituted a small minority 

Chapter Four: Section 20 


of the international Socialist movement... .” 108 Lenin and his minority 
prevailed in the end because their judgment of the political situation had 
been better than that of other socialists. 

When Lenin announced his “April Theses” in the spring of 1917 
these were met with hostility by the other Bolshevik leaders, who thought 
he was “temporarily disorientated.” 109 Lenin persisted, however, and in this 
case he did succeed after several weeks in bringing the rest of the party 
over to his view. 110 Much the same thing happened in October of that year 
when, at first against the opposition of the majority of the Bolshevik leaders 
but eventually with success, Lenin advocated the insurrection that put the 
Bolsheviks in control of Russia. 111 

Lenin won out in these conflicts only because his political judgment 
was better than that of his opponents. If his opponents had advocated more 
effective policies, they would have prevailed in the end and Lenin would 
have sunk into obscurity. 

Lenin of course was a political genius, so he could afford to be con¬ 
fident to the point of arrogance in his political judgments. Those of us 
who are not equally gifted should be more cautious about risking a split 
in a revolutionary movement. Nevertheless, when it has become clear that 
there are deep and irreconcilable disagreements between different factions, 
it will generally be advisable for a movement to split. 

20. A revolutionary movement needs to be self-confident. Alinsky, 
in explaining the techniques he had used throughout his long and success¬ 
ful career as a social and political activist, emphasized that a community 
organizer had to have confidence in himself 12 and had to instill confidence 
in the people he was organizing. As long as people lacked confidence in 
their own power to bring about great changes they remained passive and 
apathetic, but once they were imbued with a sense of their own power 
they could become energetic, active, and effective. 113 Trotsky noted the 
significance of the fact that the Bolsheviks “believed in their own truth and 
their victory.” 114 The international communist movement—successor to the 
Bolsheviks—placed importance on “belief in the triumph of our 

When Fidel Castro claimed that he could start a revolution with 
ten or fifteen men (see above, section 10), he added an important condi¬ 
tion: His men had to have “absolute faith,” presumably meaning absolute 
faith in their own eventual victory. The term “absolute faith” must be 
taken with a grain of salt. Given Marxism’s claim to be “scientific” and the 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

enormous prestige of science, it’s not surprising that many Marxists of the 
19th and the early 20th century had absolute faith in the eventual victory 
of the proletarian revolution. But nowadays well-informed people are more 
sophisticated, more skeptical. If you try to tell them that your movement 
is absolutely certain to achieve victory, you will attract only those who are 
either thoroughly irrational or extraordinarily naive. 

Castro, however, in speaking of “absolute faith,” may have been refer¬ 
ring not to a literal belief in the certainty of victory but to a psychological 
state: to buoyant self-confidence and a subjective sense of power—qualities 
that encourage people to exert themselves to the limit, to recover from 
repeated defeats, and to persist in the face of difficulties that less inspired 
individuals would see as insurmountable. This psychological state does not 
require an absolute certainty of success, but it does at least require a belief 
that one will have an excellent chance of success if only one works hard 
enough and long enough and shows sufficient energy, courage, willpower, 
skill, and determination. 

Such a belief can be rationally sustained. Self-confidence tends to be 
self-justifying, in the sense that confidence that one can succeed tends to 
lead to actual success. A chief determinant, if not the chief determinant, of 
success for a revolutionary movement is its faith in itself. Faith leads to deep 
commitment; it inspires heroic efforts and persistence in the face of over¬ 
whelming difficulties. Given such faith and commitment, a movement may 
achieve things that no one thought possible. Above, section 10, we’ve given 
examples of tiny groups of seeming “cranks” who initiated successful revolu¬ 
tions against what appeared at the outset to be impossible odds. Numerous 
examples can be cited—we will cite some in a moment—of groups that 
eventually achieved victory only because they had the self-confidence to 
persist in the face of defeat and even when their situation seemed hopeless. 

Conversely, when people lack confidence in their power to achieve 
things they will not in fact achieve anything difficult, because no one will 
exert himself to the limit when he has little hope that his efforts will be 
rewarded with any impressive result. For the same reason it is a serious 
mistake to set modest goals for a revolutionary movement on the ground 
that such goals are “realistic.” Only a truly world-transforming goal can 
inspire people to accept hardship, risk, and sacrifice, and to put forth the 
extreme effort that will be necessary for the success of any real revolutionary 
movement in the world today. 116 

Chapter Four: Section 21 


It follows that the goal a revolutionary movement sets itself must be 
nothing less than the total collapse of the technological system. The move¬ 
ment moreover must consistently insist that its chances of achieving that 
goal will be excellent if its members show a sufficient level of commitment, 
energy, courage, willpower, skill, and persistence. 

21. An important note of clarification: The rule that a revolutionary 
movement should be self-confident refers to confidence in its ability to reach 
its ultimate goal—that of consummating the revolution. Overconfidence 
in carrying out particular projects or operations must be carefully guarded 
against, because overconfidence leads to carelessness and carelessness leads 
to failure. That’s why Lenin habitually exaggerated the potential risks 
involved in any action and worked out his plans with meticulous care. 117 
As Trotsky said, “one must be prudent to win the right to be bold.” 118 

Prudence demands that one take care not to underestimate one’s 
adversary. Underestimation of the adversary leads to overconfidence, thence 
to carelessness and defeat. In general, it is safer to overestimate one’s adver¬ 
sary. Such was the policy of Lenin. 119 Mao emphasized that while one must 
have confidence in one’s ability to defeat the enemy in the long run, one 
must never slacken one’s efforts through overconfidence during the actual 
process of struggle: 

Comrade Mao Tsetung has repeatedly pointed out: strategically, with 
regard to the whole, revolutionaries must despise the enemy, dare 
to struggle against him and dare to seize victory; at the same time, 
tactically, with regard to each part, each specific struggle, they must 
take the enemy seriously, be prudent, carefully study and perfect the 
art of struggle... , 120 

In line with this, it should be understood that the rule that a rev¬ 
olutionary movement must have an ambitious, world-transforming goal 
refers only to the movement’s ultimate goal. The movement’s subsidiary 
goals—the goals that are steps on the way to the ultimate goal—should be 
prudently and carefully selected. Mao advised, “fight no battle you are not 
sure of winning.” 121 Mao apparently was thinking primarily of a military 
situation, but whether in a military or in any other situation, his advice 
would be impractical if taken in a strictly literal sense. Seldom can one 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

be really sure of success in any enterprise. However, in contemplating any 
project or action, revolutionaries should cautiously balance the advantages 
to be gained through success against the risk of defeat. Trotsky pointed out: 
“Every defeat... changes [the correlation of forces],.. to the disadvantage of 
the vanquished, for the victor gains in self-confidence and the vanquished 
loses faith in himself.” 122 

The hard core of a revolutionary movement needs to have the confi¬ 
dence, the commitment, and the psychological toughness to recover from 
repeated defeats and carry on in spite of them. But even the most deeply 
committed revolutionaries are, after all, human, and may be weakened by 
defeats or failures. Therefore one should risk a defeat or a failure only when 
there is a strong reason for doing so. 

22. The negative effect of defeats will be mitigated if revolutionaries 
understand that, following a crushing defeat that seems to leave a group in 
a hopeless situation, a determined renewal of effort by whatever is left of 
the group very often leads to victory. 

In a surprise attack at midwinter, 877-78, Danish Vikings seized 
control ofWessex, the country of the West Saxons. Believing that resistance 
was futile, the Saxons submitted to the invaders, but their king, Alfred, 
escaped with a few followers to the woods and moors of Somerset, and by 
Easter 878 he had established himself in a fort on an island in the Somerset 
marshes. At some point, either before or after he reached the marshes, 
Alfred collected a small army, and from the fort his men harassed the 
Danes with guerrilla attacks. About the middle of May Alfred summoned 
Saxon warriors from neighboring parts ofWessex and marched with them 
against the Danes, whom he defeated decisively at the Battle of Edington. 123 
Alfred’s “memory lived on through the Middle Ages and in legend as that 
of a king who won victory in apparently hopeless circumstances.” 124 

Even more impressive is the case of Robert Bruce. 125 Toward the 
end of the 13th century, Edward I of England occupied Scotland and 
made it into something like an English colony. The Scots were restive 
under English rule, and in 1306 Robert Bruce, whose ancestry gave him a 
claim to the kingship, had himself inaugurated as King of Scotland. But 
within three months he was defeated in battle by the forces of Edward 
I and became a hunted fugitive, forced at times to survive under condi¬ 
tions of the greatest hardship. 126 At this stage his cause seemed hopeless. 
He had hardly any money or troops, 127 and the weakness of his position 

Chapter Four: Section 22 


was “almost ludicrous.” 128 Nevertheless, over the succeeding years Bruce 
waged a savage guerrilla campaign, gradually increasing the territory he 
controlled and the number of his followers until, in 1314, he defeated the 
English decisively at the Battle of Bannockburn. After that he reigned in 
effect as King of Scotland, though he did not secure English recognition 
of Scotland’s independence until 1328. Bruce’s rise from a hunted fugitive 
to ruler of an independent kingdom is seen by some as incredible, 129 but 
it does not look incredible to those who have noticed how often in history 
seemingly lost causes have eventually triumphed. 

In the autumn of 1878, the Social Democratic movement in Germany 
was very nearly destroyed by the Socialist Law of October 19 of that year, 
which was enforced with extreme severity and had the effect of abolishing 
any “societies with ‘social-democratic, socialistic, or communist’ tenden¬ 
cies.” 130 *^ their foes were encouraged, many of the Social Democrats lost 
heart. ... [T]he movement nearly disintegrated completely.” 131 But within 
a year some of the tougher and more persistent Social Democrats were 
publishing a paper in Switzerland and devising ways of smuggling it into 
Germany. 132 Meanwhile, other members of the movement developed legal 
and illegal subterfuges that enabled them to circumvent the Socialist Law 
and build a new organization for the party, 133 so that by the autumn of 
1884 German Social Democracy was stronger than ever 134 —even though 
it was still illegal. 

According to Mao, “in 1931... some comrades became proud and 
overweening. The result was [a],.. serious error in the political line, which 
cost us about 90 percent of the revolutionary forces that we had built up 
with so much toil.” 135 An editors’ note explains: 

The erroneous ‘Left’ line dominated the Party for a particularly long 
time (four years) and brought extremely heavy losses, with disastrous 
consequences, to the Party and the revolution. A loss of 90 percent 
was inflicted on the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese Red 
Army and its base areas... , 136 

But the Communists persisted in their efforts, rebounded from their 
defeats and, as we know, by 1949 had made themselves masters of China. 

In South Africa during the early 1970s the ANC (African National 
Congress) seemed thoroughly defeated and almost defunct. 137 But what 
was left of the organization continued the struggle, with the result that 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

the ANC eventually recovered its strength and made itself the dominant 
political force in South Africa. Today (2013) the ANC is the ruling party 
of that country. 

The Bolsheviks repeatedly recovered from severe defeats. When the 
Social Democrats of Russia (who included the Bolsheviks 138 ) “helped to 
rouse antigovernment demonstrations” in 1905, their insurrection failed, 
and “they were arrested, imprisoned, or exiled.” 139 To one who lived through 
those days it seemed that “[t]he revolution was dying. ... Darkness and 
despair had set in [among the intelligentsia],” 140 “But Lenin did not despair 
of success. ... For him there were lessons to be learned, new plans to be 
worked out, alternate methods of revolution to be considered.” 141 

Again in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, “the revolutionary 
movement died down. ... The revolutionary ideas were barely kept glowing 
in small and hushed circles. In the factories in those days nobody dared to 
call himself‘Bolshevik’ for fear not only of arrest, but of a beating from the 
backward workers.” 142 As we mentioned earlier (section 10), the Bolsheviks’ 
centralized organization was destroyed at this time through the arrest of 
their delegates in the Duma. Nevertheless the Bolsheviks persisted, and 
following the February 1917 insurrection and the implementation of Lenin’s 
“April Theses” they made themselves into an important force in the Russian 
revolutionary process. 

However, as a result of the “July Days” (the abortive insurrection of 
July 1917; 143 see section 12, above) the Bolsheviks again suffered a severe 
setback, 144 one that would have been fatal to a less determined group. 

‘After the July Days,’ writes V. Yakovleva, at that time a member of 
the Central Committee..., ‘all reports from the localities described 
with one voice not only a sharp decline in the mood of the masses, 
but even a definite hostility to our party. In a good number of cases 
our speakers were beaten up. The membership fell off rapidly, and 
several organizations... even ceased to exist entirely.’... The efflux 
from the party in some cases reached such a scale that only after a 
new registration of members could the organization begin to live a 
proper life. 145 

We’ve emphasized that any major defeat is dangerous. But if a rev¬ 
olutionary organization has a hard core that is absolutely committed and 
determined, the organization in some cases may actually be strengthened 

Chapter Four: Section 22 


by a defeat because its weaker members are weeded out: If they don’t leave 
the organization, they at least reveal themselves by their wavering during 
the period of failures and difficulties. Thus the hard core is consolidated, 
because its members are clearly distinguished from the weaker members of 
the organization. Trotsky notes in reference to the July Days: 

This sharp turn in the mood of the masses produced an automatic, 
and moreover an unerring, selection within the cadres of the party. 
Those [Bolsheviks] who did not tremble in those days could be relied 
on absolutely in what was to come. They constituted a nucleus in the 
shops, in the factories, in the districts. On the eve of [the Bolshevik 
seizure of power in October 1917], in making appointments and allot¬ 
ting tasks, the organizers would glance round many a time calling to 
mind who bore himself how in the July Days. 146 

In this way the Bolsheviks drew an advantage from their July defeat 
when the time came for them to take control of Russia. But just a few 
months after their seizure of power they again came close to total defeat 
with the invasion of the “White” counterrevolutionaries and their Western 

[T]he Bolsheviks were about to fall. It seemed a matter of days. Ruin 
surrounded them, from the Pacific and all across Siberia and the 
Urals, their power had collapsed. The Germans were in charge in the 
Ukraine, where a voluntary army was forming against the Bolsheviks, 
and the English were landing in the north. As was famine. 147 

In these circumstances, nothing but the unbreakable determination of 
the hard core of the Bolshevik Party enabled it to survive. But it did survive, 
and it retained its iron grip on Russia for more than sixty years thereafter. 

This ability to bounce back from severe defeats is a trait that seems 
characteristic of successful revolutionary leaders. The trait is delineated 
with particular clarity in the case of Fidel Castro. Matthews emphasizes 
“Fidel’s incorrigible optimism and fighting spirit” 148 : 

‘The most important feature of Fidel’s character,’ his brother 
Raul said to me..., ‘is that he will not accept defeat.’ 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

Every phase of his life, from childhood to the present, proves 
this point. ... Fidel never gave up; he never lost heart; he seems 
immune to discouragement and dismay. 149 

Fidel Castro was like Lenin in having the gift of inspiring all those 
around him by his faith in himself and in what he was doing. ... [I]t 
showed up best in the worst and apparently most hopeless periods. 150 

23. In these pages we may seem to be making heroes of such men 
as Robert Bruce, Lenin, Mao, Castro, the extreme Irish nationalists, and 
so forth. Certainly the deeds of all these people were of heroic magnitude. 
But this doesn’t mean that we should admire them as human beings, still 
less that we should respect their goals or their values. The Bolshevik/ 
Communist leaders were committed technophiles, 151 and therefore the 
adversaries of those of us who believe that modern technology is pushing 
the world toward disaster. Robert Bruce may (or may not) have made some 
pretense of patriotic motives, 152 but in all probability his real motive was 
personal ambition 153 —he wanted to be king of Scotland—and in the service 
of that ambition he inflicted terrible cruelties not only on the English but 
even on some of his fellow Scotsmen. 154 In the twentieth century, as we 
pointed out in Chapter Three, there was no reason why Ireland needed 
to become independent of Britain. 155 It was solely in order to satisfy their 
own psychological needs that the Irish nationalists provoked the war of 
independence that brought suffering and death to so many of their coun¬ 
trymen, and the Irish are no better off today than they would have been if 
Ireland had remained part of the United Kingdom. 

Here we’ve taken notice of some of the revolutionaries of the past only 
because we can learn something from their experience and their methods. 
If we’ve cited Communist leaders more often than others, we’ve done so 
notfrom any sympathy for Communism but only because the Communists, 
by and large, have been the most effective and successful revolutionaries 
of the 20th century. 

24. Professional propagandists know that people usually accept only 
those new ideas that they are already predisposed to accept. 156 A revolution¬ 
ary movement should try to identify the sectors of the population whose 
members are most likely to be predisposed to accept the revolutionary mes¬ 
sage, and should give special attention to those sectors in propagating its 

Chapter Four: Section 25 


ideas and in its efforts at recruitment. Nevertheless, anti-tech ideas should 
be made known not only to the predisposed sectors but to the population at 
large. The rule that only predisposed people accept new ideas is not neces¬ 
sarily applicable “in times of revolutionary crisis when old beliefs have been 
shattered.” 157 Thus, as we pointed out in section 8, when a severe crisis of 
the system arrives the revolutionary movement will have its opportunity to 
acquire a mass following; but a mass following will be more easily acquired 
if most people already have at least some superficial acquaintance with 
anti-tech ideas. Moreover, even long before the arrival of a crisis and even 
in sectors where the revolutionaries cannot hope to win any active support, 
their message can promote discontent and disillusionment and thus help to 
set the stage for the arrival of the crisis. See in this chapter section 1, third 
point, and Alinsky as quoted in section 8. 

25. A revolutionary movement must maintain clear lines of demar¬ 
cation that separate it from other radical groups holding ideologies that to 
some extent resemble its own. 158 This is a corollary to the need for unity that 
we stressed in section 17: A social or political movement can’t be unified if 
it has many members whose loyalty is divided between their own movement 
and some other. Moreover, a movement needs to have a clear and unmistak¬ 
able identity of its own; this is necessary not only for the internal cohesion 
of the movement itself, but also so that outsiders will easily recognize the 
movement and will respect it (see section 1, second point, and section 16). 
In addition, the movement needs to keep itself strictly independent of all 
other groups. Dependence upon or too close a linkage with another group 
will prevent a revolutionary organization from acting in the interest of its 
own goals when these conflict with the goals of the other group. 

One movement from which an anti-tech organization needs to sep¬ 
arate itself definitively is that of the radical environmentalists; another is 
anarchoprimitivism. Most radical environmentalists do not contemplate the 
elimination of the entire technological system. An anti-tech organization 
can’t afford to have members who are not sure they really want to eliminate 
modern technology, nor can it afford to be linked with a movement that 
holds an ambivalent position respecting technology. The anarchoprimitiv- 
ists do want to eliminate modern technology, but other goals are at least 
equally important to them: gender equality, gay rights, animal liberation, 
etc.—the whole catalog of leftist issues. 159 Elsewhere we’ve explained why 
an anti-tech movement must emphatically distance itself from leftism. 160 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

26. In its relations with rival radical groups, a revolutionary orga¬ 
nization should avoid getting entangled in sterile, interminable wrangles 
over ideology. Such wrangles have been prevalent, for example, in anarchist 
circles. Some anarchists seem to spend most of their time and energy on 
theoretical squabbles with other anarchists and very little on efforts to bring 
about the social changes that they advocate. Neither side in these disputes 
ever succeeds in persuading the other, and no one but the participants has 
any interest in the arguments offered. 

Seldom indeed will you succeed in persuading your opponents in an 
ideological dispute. Therefore, in any such dispute, your arguments should 
be designed not to persuade your opponents but to influence undecided 
third parties who may hear or read the arguments. For this purpose you 
should state your case concisely, as clearly and convincingly as possible, and 
in a way that will make it interesting to third parties. Then do what you can 
to ensure that your arguments are widely heard or read. Address only the 
most important points and leave out the minor ones, for third parties will 
be interested only in the main lines of the arguments. Squabbles over arcane 
technical points are worse than a waste of time because third parties, if they 
read them at all, will probably view them with disdain and may compare 
you to the medieval theologians who quarreled over the number of angels 
that could dance on the point of a pin. Similar principles apply to debates 
with the defenders of the existing system, and with those who don’t defend 
the system as it now exists but think it can be reformed. 

When one is confronted with arguments that attack one’s ideas or 
one’s group one is strongly tempted to answer them, and the more unrea¬ 
sonable the arguments are, the stronger is the temptation to answer them. 
But before one gives in to this temptation one should ask what advantages, 
if any, one’s answer can win for the revolutionary organization, and one 
should consider whether there are other ways of spending one’s time and 
energy that will be more useful for revolutionary purposes than an answer 
to the offensive arguments would be. 

The way to prevail over rival radical groups is not to argue with them 
but to outflank them: Focus on recruiting to your organization any suitable 
persons who are predisposed to reject modern technology but are undecided 
among the various factions. Show that your organization is more active 
and effective than other radical groups. This will bring more people over 
to your viewpoint than any amount of argument will do. 

Chapter Four: Section 27 


27. “[T]he most precious of all revolutionary qualities, loyalty, has its 
inevitable counterpart in treachery.” 161 Members of any radical organization 
need to bear in mind at all times the likelihood that their group includes 
informers who will report their activities to law-enforcement or intelligence 
agencies, and they should remember that even individuals who are currently 
loyal may turn traitor at some later date. 

From 1967 until the early 1970s the FBI implemented a program 
known as COINTELPRO that involved, among other things, the sys¬ 
tematic infiltration of informers into groups that the FBI found politically 
objectionable. 162 COINTELPRO under that name has long since been 
discontinued but, needless to say, the FBI still uses similar methods today. 
In 2006, members of a group of eco-saboteurs were arrested with the help 
of an FBI informer who had infiltrated radical-environmentalist circles. 163 
At about the same time, in a related operation, the FBI arrested the group 
that had been responsible for the spectacular eco-arson at Vail, Colorado in 
1998. One of the group’s members had turned traitor and helped the FBI 
to collect evidence; some of the others subsequently testified against their 
comrades in order to get shorter sentences for themselves. 164 

In South Africa the police used spies and informers with devas¬ 
tating effect against anti-apartheid activists, and some of the activists, 
when subjected to interrogation, gave information that helped the police 
to arrest their colleagues. 165 In Ireland, revolutionary groups were regu¬ 
larly infiltrated by government informers (though by 1919, under Michael 
Collins, the revolutionaries had turned the tables and developed a much 
better intelligence network than that of the government). 166 Fidel Castro’s 
guerrilleros felt it necessary to execute many traitors whom they discov¬ 
ered in their ranks. 167 Of the members of Che Guevara’s guerrilla band in 
Bolivia, some who were captured gave the authorities information about 
the members who were still free. 168 During the period in which the Social 
Democrats of Germany were outlawed (1878-1890), they established an 
“intelligence system” for the purpose of “sifting and analyzing raw infor¬ 
mation to uncover informers and agents provocateurs],” 169 but this did not 
entirely protect them against infiltration by police agents. 170 Even one of 
the delegates to the Social Democrats’ secret congress at Wyden Castle in 
Switzerland (August 1880) was “in the pay of the Berlin Police President.” 171 
In Russia, the Social Revolutionaries’ “Combat Organization” was headed 
for a time by a police agent. 172 According to Trotsky, as noted in section 
10, above, three of the seven members of the Bolsheviks’ St. Petersburg 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

committee in 1914 were police agents. 173 A prominent Bolshevik named 
Malinovsky, who was the party’s spokesman in the Duma and played a 
critical role in the founding of Pravda, later turned out to be a police agent. 
Even after it should have been evident that Malinovsky was a spy, Lenin 
refused to believe it. 174 

The pattern is consistent and the lesson is clear: A radical group 
can never safely assume that its plans or its activities are unknown to the 
government. Thus, a legal revolutionary organization is well advised to 
remain exactly that: strictly legal. 175 Any sort of dabbling in illegal activities 
is extremely dangerous. 

28. It is important to study the history and the methods of earlier 
social and political movements and the techniques developed by successful 
leaders of such movements. It is a serious mistake to reject out of hand the 
techniques and the theories of revolutionaries or activists of the past merely 
because their goals were incompatible with anti-tech goals or because they 
were leftists or reformists. It’s true that many of their methods must be 
rejected as unsuitable for use by an anti-tech organization today, and of 
their other methods many must be modified to adapt them to such use. 
Neither history nor the principles laid down by past leaders will provide 
formulas or recipes for success that can be applied in cookbook fashion. But 
they provide ideas, of which some may lead to methods that are suitable for 
anti-tech use while others may call our attention to dangers or stumbling- 
blocks that we need to avoid. 

Mao emphasized not only the importance of learning from the expe¬ 
rience of the past as recorded in history, but also that theories derived from 
past experience were often incomplete and needed to be corrected through 
further experience. Similarly, principles of action found to be valid in other 
contexts might not be applicable to the concrete situations arising in the 
development of a given revolution. Consequently, from among such prin¬ 
ciples revolutionaries needed to sort out what was useful for their purposes 
from what was useless, discard the useless, and modify the useful to adapt 
it to their own needs. 176 

It takes hard work to study the history and the methods of past 
movements and to sort out the useful from the useless. But if you fail to 
learn from the past then you condemn yourself to learning everything all 
over again, by trial and error. This is a slow, halting, and difficult process. 
A good deal of trial and error will be necessary anyway, but the number of 

Chapter Four: Section 29 


trials needed and the number of errors committed will be greatly reduced 
if you put out the effort demanded by a careful study of earlier movements 
and their methods. A refusal to make this effort will seriously diminish 
your chances of success. 

This writer has had no opportunity to study more than a few of the 
works of history, political science, sociology, and revolutionary theory that 
may be relevant to the anti-tech enterprise. Worthy of careful attention are 
the works of Alinsky, Selznick, Smelser, and Trotsky that appear in our 
List of Works Cited. But there is a vast amount of other relevant literature 
that deserves to be explored; for example, the literature of the academic 
field known as “Organizational Behavior,” and the works of Lenin to the 
extent that they deal with revolutionary strategy and tactics (his ideological 
hokum is merely of historical interest). Thorough library research will reveal 
an unending series of other relevant works. It is worth repeating that this 
literature will provide no recipes for action that can be applied mechan¬ 
ically. It will provide ideas, some of which can be applied, with suitable 
modifications, to the purposes of an anti-tech organization. 

29. Let’s illustrate the foregoing with a concrete example. Selznick 
explains how Communists operating in countries outside the socialist bloc 
would infiltrate non-Communist organizations, find their way into key 
positions within such organizations, and use those positions to influence 
the activity of the organizations in question. In some cases the organizations 
were taken over completely and made into appendages of the Communist 
Party. The Communists did not find it necessary to place large numbers 
of their people in the organizations that they sought to influence or con¬ 
trol; a relatively small number of individuals, strategically placed and well 
organized, could exercise great power. 177 

For an anti-tech movement today there can be no question of simply 
copying Communist tactics. But careful study of a book like Selznick’s can 
lead to ideas such as the following ones: 

An anti-tech organization will have some degree of affinity with 
radical environmentalism. Many people tend to associate the term “rad¬ 
ical environmentalist” only with illegal groups like Earth Liberation 
Front (ELF), but here we apply the term to any individual or group advo¬ 
cating environmental solutions that are too radical to have any chance 
of acceptance by the mainstream in modern society. For example, Bill 
McKibben—author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age —is a 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

radical environmentalist by our definition, though as far as we know his 
work has always been entirely legal. Since we’ve already emphasized that 
a revolutionary organization committed to open, political action should 
maintain strict legality (section 27), it follows that the members of such 
an organization should avoid any involvement in illegal actions by radical 
environmentalists. But this need not prevent anti-tech revolutionaries from 
participating in the legal activities of radical environmentalist groups and 
seeking positions of power and influence within such groups. This power 
and influence could be used to the advantage of an anti-tech organization 
in various ways. For example: 

(i) The anti-tech organization may be able to find suitable recruits 
for itself among the members of radical environmentalist groups. 

(ii) If a member of the anti-tech organization can find a place on the 
editorial board of a radical environmentalist periodical (for instance, the 
Earth First!Journal), he will be able to influence the content of the period¬ 
ical. If a majority of anti-tech people can be placed on the editorial board, 
they will be able in effect to take the periodical over, minimize its leftist 
content, and use it systematically for the propagation of anti-tech ideas. 

(iii) If an anti-tech organization decides to undertake action on an 
environmental issue as suggested in section 17 of this chapter, and if it has 
power and influence within radical environmentalist groups, then it should 
be able to secure support and cooperation from these groups in carrying 
out the action in question. 

(iv) In some cases the anti-tech revolutionaries may be able to take 
over a radical environmentalist group altogether and turn it into an anti¬ 
tech group. Under these circumstances leftists can be expected to drift away 
from the group, and in their place the group will attract recruits who are 
predisposed to anti-tech. 

(v) Work in radical environmentalist groups will provide anti-tech 
revolutionaries with valuable training and experience in leadership and 
organizational work. 178 

(vi) When an acute crisis of the system arrives, the power and influ¬ 
ence that anti-tech revolutionaries wield within radical environmentalist 
groups will be useful in the effort to organize on a mass basis. 

None of this is inconsistent with the rule that the anti-tech movement 
must maintain clear lines of demarcation between itself and other radical 
movements. Lenin’s emphasis on such lines of demarcation did not prevent 
him from collaborating—when he found it useful—with leaders of groups 

Chapter Four: Section 29 


whose programs were in conflict with that of his own group. 179 Of course, 
members of the anti-tech organization who are asked to work within radical 
environmentalist groups will have to be clearly aware of the importance of 
the lines of demarcation. They will need to understand that their purpose 
in working with radical environmentalists is solely to win advantages for 
anti-tech and not to promote any radical environmentalist goals that may 
be inconsistent with anti-tech goals. 

How can anti-tech revolutionaries get themselves into positions of 
power and influence in radical environmentalist groups? The most import¬ 
ant way will be through 

the moral authority of hard work. In every organization which they 
seek to capture, the communists are the readiest volunteers, the most 
devoted committee workers, the most alert and active participants. 
In many groups, this is in itself sufficient to gain the leadership; it is 
almost always enough to justify candidacy [for leadership]. 180 

The [Communists] in penetrating an organization... become the 
‘best workers’ for whatever goals the organization seeks to attain. 181 

This approach can be supplemented with a technique that Nelson 
Mandela used with outstanding success to get and keep leadership of 
the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa: He strictly controlled his 
emotions, rarely allowed himself to show anger, remained always calm, 
self-possessed, even-tempered. 182 This kind of deportment wins respect 
and encourages others to look to an individual for leadership. Among the 
Andaman Islanders, a potential chief was “a young adult in the camp who 
possessed the virtues that attract even younger men to seek his company. 
He was usually a good hunter, generous, and, above all, even-tempered .” 183 

A revolutionary working in a radical environmentalist group won’t 
need to conceal his anti-tech commitment. But for obvious reasons he must 
avoid pushing anti-tech ideas aggressively, and he must not show disrespect 
for radical environmentalists’ ideas. If he argues in favor of anti-tech he 
must do so in a good-humored way, and if an ideological discussion becomes 
heated or angry he must withdraw from it. 

For the present this writer is not actually recommending that an anti¬ 
tech organization should use these methods to gain power and influence 
within the radical environmentalist movement. The leaders of an anti-tech 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

organization will make that decision when the time comes, and they will 
take into account the resources of their organization, the opportunities 
available to it, and any other relevant factors. The point here is simply that 
the ideas outlined in this section are at least worthy of serious consideration, 
and that this writer would never have thought of those ideas if he hadn’t 
studied Selznick’s book. This example shows how the histories and the 
techniques of past movements can be an important source of ideas for an 
anti-tech movement today. 

30. A revolutionary organization will need a section or a committee 
devoted to studying technology and keeping up with technological devel¬ 
opments, and not only for the purpose of attacking technology politically. 
The organization also needs to be able to apply technology for its own 
revolutionary purposes. 

It is well known that in the United States (and probably in most other 
countries) law-enforcement and intelligence agencies have long made use 
of wire-tapping—often illegally—to keep track of the plans and activities 
of politically suspect groups. But nowadays old-fashioned tapping of tele¬ 
phone lines is becoming obsolete and far more sophisticated eavesdropping 
techniques are available, 184 along with such tools for spying as ubiquitous 
surveillance cameras, face-recognition technology, hummingbird-sized 
(perhaps even insect-sized) drones, and mind-reading machines. 185 

In the United States, eavesdropping or spying by a government agency, 
unless authorized by a court of law, violates the Fourth Amendment’s 
prohibition of unreasonable searches, and at least in some cases is illegal. 
But in all of the extensive legal research that this writer has conducted in 
relation to constitutional rights, he has never come across a single case in 
which government agents have actually been prosecuted for illegal eaves¬ 
dropping or spying. While a civil lawsuit might theoretically be possible 
in some cases, we can say for practical purposes that almost the only legal 
defense against the government’s illicit surveillance consists in the fact 
that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be 
used in a criminal prosecution against the victim of the violation. 186 But 
there will be no prospect of criminal prosecution of members of a revolu¬ 
tionary organization that carefully maintains the legality of its activities. 
Consequently, government agencies will have no incentive to refrain from 
eavesdropping or spying on such an organization in disregard of the Fourth 
Amendment. Unconstitutionally and illegally acquired knowledge of the 

Chapter Four: Section 30 


plans and activities of the organization may give the authorities a decisive 
advantage and enable them to sabotage the organization’s efforts in various 
legal or illegal ways (as was done, for example, in the COINTELPRO 
program that we mentioned in section 27). 187 Revolutionaries therefore need 
to be well informed about eavesdropping and spying technology, and need 
to have the technical capacity to defend themselves against its illegal use. 

As time passes, it becomes less and less likely that revolutions in 
technologically advanced countries can be consummated by traditional 
methods; for example, by crowds of people taking to the streets. A careful 
study has shown that, for the traditional type of revolution, aid to the 
revolutionaries by elements of the military, or at least the neutrality of the 
latter, is usually required for success. 188 In the recent (2011) “Arab Spring” 
revolution in Egypt, for instance, it is probable that the top military leaders 
gave in to many of the protesters’ demands only because they feared that if 
it ever came to a showdown and they found it necessary to order crowds to 
be machine-gunned, many of their troops would refuse to obey and might 
even defect to the revolutionaries. But techniques of crowd control are 
becoming ever more sophisticated: People can now be dispersed or incapac¬ 
itated with superpowerful sound-blasters and strobe torches, 189 and a soldier 
who would refuse to shoot into a crowd of his fellow citizens might have 
no qualms about blasting them off the streets with unendurable volumes of 
sound. Following a riot, police will be able to track down participants with 
the help of images from surveillance cameras, face-recognition technology, 
and records of telephone traffic. 190 

More importantly, the replacement of humans by machines in the 
military is proceeding apace. 191 At the moment human soldiers and police¬ 
men are still necessary, but, given the accelerating rate of technological 
development, it is all too possible that within a couple of decades police 
and military forces may consist largely of robots. These presumably will be 
immune to subversion and will have no inhibitions about shooting down 

Of course, technology can be used by rebels, too, against the estab¬ 
lished power-structure. 192 Thus, a future revolution probably will not be 
carried out in the same way as any of the revolutions of the past or present. 
Instead, the outcome will depend heavily on technological manipulations, 
both by the authorities and by the revolutionaries. The importance for 
revolutionaries of technological competence is therefore evident. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 


1. Selznick, p. 113. 

2. See Kaczynski, pp. 265-67, 271-72, 321-24. 

3. See Kaczynski, pp. 355-56. 

4. See Kaczynski, p. 262, items (b), (c), (d). Smelser, p. 353, notes that when 
the existing social order loses its appearance of invulnerability, new possibilities 
for revolution may open up. 

5. See Chapter One. 

6. Horowitz, p. 126. Horowitz, pp. 63-65, describes how Fidel Castro 
groped his way through the Cuban Revolution, learning from experience as he 
went along. 

7. Matthews, p. 123.1 seriously doubt that Hitler could have outlined his 
program with any degree of precision. “In 1928, before the onset of the Great 
Depression in Germany, Hitler received less than 3 percent of the vote,” and it 
was the Depression that enabled him to become powerful. NEB (2003), Vol. 27, 
“Socio-Economic Doctrines and Reform Movements,” p. 416. I’ve had neither the 
opportunity nor much inclination to read Mein Kampf but I find it hard to believe 
that Hitler, in the early 1920s when he wrote his book, could have predicted the 
occurrence and the approximate time of the Depression. 

8. See Alinsky, pp. 5-6, 45, 69,136,153-55, 164, 165-66, 168,183. 

9. Trotsky, Vol. Three, Appendix Two, p. 409. 

10. Radzinsky, p. 202. NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin,” p. 934. 

11. Trotsky, beginning on p. 298 of Vol. One and all through the rest of 
the history of the Revolution. 

12. Hoffer, § 89. Smelser, p. 381. Trotsky, Vol. One, p. xviii. 

13. Selznick, p. 23 note 6 (quoting Lenin, “A Letter to a Comrade on our 
Problems of Organization,” in Lenin on Organization, pp. 124-25). Alinsky, pp. 
77-78, 120. 

14. NEB (2003), Vol. 28, “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” p. 1000. 
Cf. Kaczynski, pp. 268-69. 

15. Trotsky, Vol. One, Chapt. VIII, pp. 136-152. Cf. Kaczynski, p. 267. 

16. See Kaczynski, p. 358. 

17. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “War, Theory and Conduct of,” p. 647; also p. 650 
(views of the elder H. vonMoltke). Mao, pp. 58-61. Liddell Hart (passim, e.g., 
pp. 28-29, 40) repeatedly emphasizes the importance of what he calls “elasticity,” 
by which he presumably means the ability to adapt quickly to the unexpected; 
i.e., flexibility. 

18. Dorpalen, p. 332. 

19. Trotsky, Vol. Two, p. 315. See also Selznick, pp. 22, 70, 217. 

20. Mao, pp. 78-79. 

Chapter Four: Notes 


21. See Chapter Three, Part IV. 

22. Radzinsky, p. 82. 

23. NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin,” p. 936. NEB (2003), Vol. 28, “Union of 
Soviet Socialist Republics,” p. 1002. Radzinsky, p. 375. 

24. NEB (2010), Vol. 3, “Corday, Charlotte,” p. 624. 

25. Kee, pp. 564, 578. 

26. Kaufmann, editor’s preface to “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” p. 111. 

27. Thurston, e.g, pp. 163,215,225-26, 282 note 76. NEB (2003), Vol. 
29, “World Wars,” pp. 1009,1023 (table). 

28. Keegan, pp. 420-432. Gilbert, European Powers, pp. 264, 266. 
Manchester, pp. 527-29 (“Winston Churchill promised the Commons that 
Germany ‘will be subjected to an ordeal the like of which has never been expe¬ 
rienced by a country in continuity, severity, and magnitude.’”), 647-48. NEB 
(2003), Vol. 29, “World Wars,” pp. 1020,1024. See also Paz. In contrast to that of 
German civilians, the morale of the Japanese civilian population was “brought to 
breaking-point” by a bombing campaign similar to that carried out over Germany. 
Keegan, p. 432. This seems surprising in view of the stoical character of the 
Japanese people. Japanese soldiers tended to fight to the death rather than sur¬ 
render. E.g., Astor, pp. 268, 413, 843-44. 

29. Wolk, p. 5. This is doubtless an extreme example, but the usual attri¬ 
tion rate among Allied air crews was severe enough. See Keegan, p. 433. Astor, 
p. 360, cites the example of the U.S. 306th Bomb Group, of which, in the course 
of 25 missions, more than one in three were killed—a few in training accidents 
but most in combat. Another 28% became prisoners of war, presumably because 
their aircraft were shot down. It’s true of course that air crews’ morale did suffer 
when attrition became excessive. Keegan, p. 428. Astor, loc. cit. 

30. Murphy, passim. It’s worth noting that—apart from the acute risk of 
being killed or crippled—the physical hardships suffered by American soldiers in 
World War II were minor in comparison with what other soldiers in other wars 
have suffered. E.g., when Washington’s defeated, starving, and half-naked army 
went into winter quarters at Valley Forge in 1777, many of the men had no shoes, 
so that “the soldiers of the Revolution [could be] tracked by the blood of their feet 
on the frozen ground.” Martin, pp. 58, 161. The accuracy of Martin’s memories, 
written down half a century after the events, may well be questioned, but sober 
history confirms that on the way to Valley Forge thousands of Washington’s men 
were “barefoot and otherwise naked” and that the following winter was one of 
“semi-starvation.” NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “Washington, George,” p. 703. Yet the 
core of the rag-tag army held together and lived to fight again. 

31. Murphy, pp. 4-8. Some Polish-Americans have disputed the claim that 
Murphy was the most-decorated U.S. soldier of WWII and would assign that 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

honor to Lt. Col. Matt Urban (properly Urbanowicz). Polish American Journal, 
Aug. 2010, p. 2; Jan. 2011, p. 7; Feb. 2012, p. 10. But Urban was given some of his 
decorations only after his death in 1995, ibid., and he received the Congressional 
Medal of Honor in 1980—a presidential election year—under circumstances that 
suggest that the award might have been a play for the Polish-American vote. See 
ibid., Sept. 2012, p. 7. So, in my opinion, Audie Murphy should be ranked as 

32. Kee, p. 732. 

33. Stafford, p. 193. 

34. Shattuck, p. 21. 

35. De Gaulle, pp. 461-62. 

36. Polish American Journal , Sept. 2012, p. 8; Feb. 2013, pp. 4, 7. Knab, 
pp. 1, 6. Lukowski 8c Zawadzki, pp. 261-63. For balance, it should be noted that 
there was a great deal of anti-Semitism in Poland at the time, and some Poles even 
helped the Nazis to round up Jews. Thurston, p. 224. Lukowski 8c Zawadzki, loc. 
cit. Interestingly, one of the two women who founded Zegota, an underground 
organization dedicated to saving Jews, had been “generally considered... anti- 
Semitic” before the war. Jacobson, p. 7. 

37. Woo, p. 11B. 

38. Reid, p. 11. 

39. De Gaulle, p. 713. 

40. Hammer, p. 69. 

41. Lee Lockwood, p. 80. 

42. Gallagher, p. 45. 

43. Bolivar, “Memoria dirigida a los ciudadanos de la Nueva Granada por 
un Caraqueno,” in Soriano, p. 54. 

44. Alinsky, p. xxii. See also p. 189 (referring to “a willingness to abstain 
from hard opposition as changes take place”). 

45. See Kee, pp. 519-592. 

46. NEB (2003), Vol. 27, “Socio-Economic Doctrines and Reform 
Movements,” p. 416. 

47. See note 120 to Chapter Two. 

48. See, e.g.: The Economist, July 16, 2011, p. 59; Sept. 10, 2011, p. 77. The 
Week, April 13, 2012, p. 16. USA Today, Sept. 27, 2012, p. 6B. 

49. See, e.g., “Egypt: A revolution reversed,” The Week, June 29, 2012, 
p. 18, and any number of current (2013) news reports that follow the ongoing 
development of the Egyptian situation. 

50. Smelser, p. 381. 

51. Marx 8c Engels, pp. 21-22 (Introduction by Francis B. Randall), 46 
(Engels’s preface to English edition of 1888). Dorpalen, p. 211. 

Chapter Four: Notes 


52. Kee, pp. 391,405,440-564. E.g., p. 537 (“Redmond... continued rightly 
to advise Birrell that these extremist forces represented only a minute proportion 
oflrish opinion...”). 

53. I’ve been told that Castro is thus quoted by Pandita, p. 35.1 have not 
seen Pandita’s book, but the quote is confirmed, to a close approximation, by 
Shapiro, p. 139, and the original source is given as “N.Y. Times, 22 Apr. 1959.” 

54. Estimates of the number range from seven to fifteen. Horowitz, p. 26. 
Russell, pp. 22, 23, 116, 117. NEB (2003), Vol. 2, “Castro, Fidel,” p. 941. See 
also Matthews, pp. 93-98. 

55. For Batista’s army, NEB (2003), loc. cit., gives the figure 30,000. Russell, 
pp. 17, 22-23, cites estimates ranging from 29,000 to 50,000 (plus 7,000 police). 
For the size of Castro’s force, NEB (2003), loc. cit., says 800 men. Estimates cited 
by Russell, pp. 23, 163, confirm that until just before Batista’s fall the maximum 
size attained by the force under Castro’s own command was about 800, but indicate 
that there were other guerrilla bands not under Castro’s direct control, so that the 
total number of guerrilleros was somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500. At the very 
end of the rebellion “thousands” (the figures 8,000 and 40,000 are mentioned) 
“joined” Castro (though no reason is given to believe that most of these were 
under Castro’s own control). Russell, pp. 23, 116, 163. But this did not happen 
until at most a few days before Batista fled the country on Jan. 1, 1959. Ibid. In 
other words, it was only after Batista had already been effectively defeated that 
“thousands” jumped on the revolutionary bandwagon. 

56. For this whole paragraph see the following: NEB (2003), loc. cit. 
(“Castro’s propaganda efforts proved particularly effective...”). Horowitz, pp. 
62-65, 71-72, 127, 181 (“Castro’s ability to manipulate the media is famous.”). 
NEB (2003), Vol. 21, “International Relations,” p. 865, says: “Fidel Castro took 
to the Sierra Maestra... and made pretensions of fighting a guerrilla war. In fact, 
Castro’s campaign was largely propaganda..., and the real struggle for Cuba was 
fought out in the arenas of Cuban and American public opinion.” According to 
Carrillo, p. 65: “[Tjhe victory of the 26th ofjuly Movement... was possible because 
that movement was not a socialist party but a kind of national front that later split 
as the movement advanced, and in which the powerful personality of Fidel Castro 
and his closest collaborators brought about a subsequent turn toward socialism, 
while the right-wing sector openly went over to the American side.” Information in 
greater detail is provided by Russell, pp. 17-28, 40-41, 78, 88,115-120,162-64. 

57. Matthews, p. 96. 

58. Gilbert, European Powers, p. 24. 

59. See ibid.; NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin,” pp. 933-34; Selznick, p. 176 
note 2; and the quotation of Lenin cited in note 60 below. In 1894, according to 
Lenin, “you could count the [Russian] Social-Democrats on your fingers.” This 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

in “What Is to Be Done?,” Chapt. Ill, section E; in Christman, p. 118. But it’s 
not clear that any Social Democratic party formally existed in Russia at that date. 

60. Selznick, pp. 103-04, quoting Lenin, “Lecture on the 1905 revolution,” 
in Collected Works , 1942 edition, Vol. 19, pp. 389-390. 

61. Trotsky, Vol. One, pp. 37, 40. 

62. Radzinsky, pp. 133-34, 234. 

63. See Kaczynski, pp. 265-66. 

64. Trotsky, Vol. Two, p. 306. 

65. Ibid., Vol. One, p. 398. 

66. This refers to August and September 1917. Ibid., Vol. Two, p. 282. 

67. See NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin,” p. 936. Trotsky, Vol. Three, pp. 
76, 88-123, 294, gives the impression that by October 1917 the Bolsheviks had 
won the support of the great majority of the Russian population, or at least of the 
peasants, the soldiers, and the proletariat. But Trotsky probably felt compelled 
for ideological reasons to portray the Bolsheviks as having the support of “the 
people.” It’s more likely that, even at the best of times, the Bolsheviks had the 
active support only of some smallish minority and the mere passive acquiescence 
of a larger number (possibly though not necessarily a majority), while most of 
those who feared or disliked the Bolsheviks were disorganized and intimidated, 
therefore ineffective. 

68. Actually November according to modern dating. Prior to the Revolution 
Russia used “Old Style” dates, i.e., dates according to the Julian Calendar, while 
most of the rest of the world was using the Gregorian Calendar, the calendar that 
is still in use today. In this book we haven’t bothered to distinguish between Old 
Style and New Style dates in Russian history, because the difference of some 13 
days is of no importance for our purposes. Readers who want accurate dates can 
refer to any history of the Russian Revolution. 

69. NEB (2003), Vol. 28, “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” p. 1003. 

70. Trotsky, Vol. Three, p. 294. 

71. NEB (2003), loc. cit. (“In part the Bolshevik triumph can be attributed 
to superior organization and better understanding of the political dimensions of 
the Civil War.”). The World Book Encyclopedia, 2011, Vol. 20, “Union of Soviet 
Socialist Republics,” p. 36 (“The Whites were poorly organized... .”). 

72. Trotsky, Vol. One, pp. 137-140; Vol. Two, p. 302 (“The Petrograd 
[St. Petersburg] Soviet [was] the parent of all the other soviets... .”); Vol. Three 
generally, especially pp. 88-123. 

73. See ISAIF, paragraph 196, in Kaczynski, p. 101. 

74. Trotsky, Vol. Three, pp. 173, 284. 

75. Ibid., p. 130. 

76. Alinsky, p. 107. 

77. Trotsky, Vol. Two, pp. 4, 7. 

Chapter Four: Notes 


78. Alinsky, pp. 77-78,113-14,120,128-29. 

79. Trotsky, Vol. One, pp. xviii-xix. See also ibid., p. 110 (“A revolutionary 
uprising... can develop victoriously only in case it ascends step by step, and scores 
one success after another. A pause in its growth is dangerous; a prolonged marking 
of time, fatal.”). I can’t pretend to say under just what circumstances these dicta 
of Trotsky’s are actually valid, but there are numerous counterexamples to them 
unless the term “revolutionary uprising” is interpreted very narrowly. It remains 
true, however, that momentum is a very important factor in revolution, as it is in 
many other conflict situations. 

80. Trotsky, Vol. Two, pp. 9-31, 63, 68, 73, 82-83. 

81. Alinsky, pp. 27-28, 78, 133-34. See also ISAIF, paragraph 186, in 
Kaczynski, p. 98. 

82. “In a serious struggle there is no worse cruelty than to be magnanimous 
at an inopportune time.” Trotsky, Vol. Three, p. 215. 

83. Ibid., Vol. One, pp. 323-24. 

84. Ibid., Vol. Two, p. 453. 

85. Ibid., p. 306. 

86. Ibid., Vol. Three, p. 166. 

87. See note 23 to Chapter One. On Myanmar, see “Nuclear Warning,” 
The Week, June 18, 2010, p. 7. 

88. Nissani, Chapt. 2, especially pp. 62-69. NEB (2003), Vol. 8, “nuclear 
winter,” p. 821. Shukman, pp. 44-45. 

89. See Rule (iii) of Chapter Three; Alinsky, p. 113 (“power comes from 
organization... . Power and organization are one and the same.”). 

90. This is essentially what the dispute between Lenin and Martov was 
about. Selznick, p. 57 denote 43. See also Dorpalen, p. 115; NEB (2010), Vol. 22, 
“Lenin,” pp. 933-34. It was Lenin, of course, who proved to be right. 

91. See Rule (iv) of Chapter Three. 

92. Cf. Smelser, pp. 120-22, 313-325. 

93. Trotsky, Vol. Three, p. 166. 

94. See Trotsky, Vol. Two, p. 311 (“strength is accumulated in struggle and 
not in passive evasion of it”). 

95. Mao, p. 161. 

96. Selznick, p. 132, quoting from a Communist document. 

97. Selznick, p. 49, quoting Lenin, “Where to Begin,” in Collected Works, 
1929 edition, Vol. 4, Book I, p. 114. 

98. Fidel Castro, letter of Aug. 14, 1954, in Conte Agiiero; quoted in 
Horowitz, pp. 62-63. 

99. Stalin, pp. 116-17; quoted by Selznick, p. 35. 

100. Sampson, p. 427. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

101. Ibid., p. 50. See also pp. 403, 427 (Mandela always regarded himself 
as a “loyal and disciplined member” of the ANC). 

102. In Chapter One, Part III, we’ve called attention to the fact that the 
formally empowered leaders of an entire nation have in reality only limited power 
over the functioning of their society, and of course the leaders of any organization 
face a similar problem to a greater or lesser degree. So the question arises of the 
extent to which the leaders of an anti-tech organization will actually be able to 
control it. I won’t attempt a serious discussion of this difficult subject, but will 
merely point out that the problem of control is far less acute in the case of our 
revolutionary organization than it is in the case of an entire nation or even of an 
entity such as a large corporation. To mention only one reason, the revolutionary 
organization will be to a great extent ideologically uniform because its members 
are to be recruited selectively (see section 14, above), troublesome members will 
be relatively easy to identify and expel, and any dissident faction that may develop 
should withdraw to form a separate organization (see section 19). This will tend 
strongly to reduce the conflict of individual wills within the organization. 

Later, when the revolutionaries assume leadership of a mass movement, 
the problem of control may indeed be acute. (Recall for example the case of the 
“July Days”—mentioned above, section 12—in which the Bolsheviks were able to 
prevent an untimely insurrection only at very great cost to themselves. See Trotsky, 
Vol. Two, pp. 1-84, 250-58.) On the other hand, even at this stage, the fact of 
being locked in a hard struggle against external adversaries will tend to unite the 
movement behind its leaders, and this will facilitate control. 

In well-organized revolutionary movements such as those of the Bolsheviks 
and the Nazis, the core of the movement (though not necessarily the mass fol¬ 
lowing) seems to have remained, generally speaking, well under the control of 
the leaders prior to the time when the movement came into power. But once the 
movement had assumed the government of an entire nation, grave problems of 
control did emerge. See Chapter One, Part III; Chapter Three, passim. 

103. See Selznick, pp. 96-97 &. note 17, 288 note 15. 

104. See Schebesta, II. Band, I. Teil, p. 8; Turnbull, Forest People, pp. 110, 
125, and Wayward Servants, pp. 27, 28, 42, 178-181, 183, 187, 228, 256, 274, 
294, 300. 

105. Trotsky, Vol. Two, p. 306. 

106. Ibid., Vol. One, pp. 306-313. 

107. NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin,” pp. 933-34. Though the name 
“Menshevik” (from “menshe” = “smaller”) implies minority status and “Bolshevik” 
(from “bolshe” = “bigger”) implies that the Bolsheviks were a majority, the 
Bolsheviks were in fact a minority. Ibid., p. 933. Christman, editor’s introduc¬ 
tion, p. 6. See also Lenin, “The State and Revolution,” Chapt. IV, section 6; in 
Christman, p. 332. 

Chapter Four: Notes 


108. NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin,” p. 934. Here it is stated that “not a few 
Bolsheviks supported the war effort.” Hence, the “closest comrades” who followed 
Lenin on this issue comprised only some subset of the Bolsheviks. But Buhle 8c 
Sullivan, p. 174, say that “Lenin’s Bolshevik party in Russia, directed supporters 
to appeal to workers across national boundaries, to halt the war and turn it into a 
class war against the ruling cliques.” So it’s not clear whether the whole Bolshevik 
party or only some subset of it supported Lenin on this point. For our purposes 
the question is not sufficiently important to justify the research effort that would 
be needed to answer it. 

109. NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin,” p. 935. 

110. Trotsky, Vol. One, pp. 298-312. 

111. Ibid., Vol. Three, pp. 124-166. 

112. Alinsky, pp. 60, 79. 

113. Ibid., pp. 19,105-06,113-14,117-19,178, 194. 

114. Trotsky, Vol. Three, p. 73. 

115. Selznick, p. 39 (quoting Dimitrov, p. 124). In 1918 (NEB (2010), Vol. 
22, “Lenin,” p. 936; NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “Work and Employment,” pp. 956-57) 
or 1919 (Selznick, p. 10 note 3) the Bolsheviks changed their name to “Russian 
Communist Party (Bolsheviks).” Accordingly, we here use the term “Communist” 
to refer to the post-1919 Bolsheviks, their adherents, and their successors. 

116. Cf. ISAIF, paragraph 141, in Kaczynski, pp. 81-82. 

117. Trotsky, Vol. One, p. 294; Vol. Two, pp. 310-11; Vol. Three, p. 127, 
Appendix One, p. 376. 

118. Ibid., Vol. Two, p. 312. 

119. Ibid., Vol. Two, p. 320; Vol. Three, pp. 127-28. 

120. Mao, p. 346 (editors’ note at the foot of the page). 

121. Mao, p. 397. See also p. 189. 

122. Trotsky, Vol. Two, p. 251. See also Alinsky, p. 114. 

123. This cursory account has been pieced together from two sources 
that are not perfectly consistent with one another: Kendrick, pp. 237-39 and 
MacFadyen, Chapts. IV, V. 

124. NEB (2003), Vol. 1, “Alfred,” p. 260. 

125. For the whole story see Barrow, Duncan, and NEB (2003), Vol. 29, 
“United Kingdom,” pp. 40-41,120. John Barbour’s poem is by no means accurate 
historically, but the editor, Duncan, provides copious notes in which he tries to 
sort out fact from legend. 

126. Barrow, pp. 154, 160-61, 164, 166-171. Barbour, Books 2, 3, in 

127. Barrow, p. 166. 

128. Ibid., p. 187. 

129. Ibid, p. 165. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

130. Lidtke, pp. 77-81. 

131. Ibid., p. 81. 

132. Ibid., pp. 89-97. 

133. Ibid., pp. 97-104. 

134. Ibid., p. 185. Compare the figures on this page with those on p. 74. 

135. Mao, p. 307. 

136. Ibid., p. 309 note 6 and pp. 177-78 note 3. 

137. Sampson, p. 259. 

138. See Selznick, p. 10 note 3, pp. 103-04; NEB (2010), Vol. 22, “Lenin” 
pp. 933-34. 

139. Gilbert, European Powers, p. 25. 

140. Radzinsky, p. 90 (quoting an old witness who had lived through the 

141. Gilbert, loc. cit. 

142. Trotsky, Vol. One, pp. 36-37. 

143. Ibid., Vol. Two, pp. 1-84. 

144. Ibid., pp. 250-58. 

145. Ibid, p. 256. 

146. Ibid, p. 258. 

147. Radzinsky, p. 324. 

148. Matthews, p. 95. 

149. Ibid, p. 31. 

150. Ibid, pp. 96-97. 

151. E.g, Mao, pp. 476-78; Saney, pp. 19-20; Christman, editor’s intro¬ 
duction, p. 4. 

152. Duncan, p. 120 (editor’s note to Barbour’s Book 3). 

153. That personal ambition was Bruce’s principal motive can be inferred 
from Barrow, pp. xii, 17-18, 33, 41-44, 84, 110, 121-22, 124, 141, 142-44,146, 
150,174, 200,202, 245, 254, 262, 313. 

154. Cruelties inflicted on English: Barrow, pp. 197, 236,240,243, 248, 
254,256,262; on Scots: pp. 174,175-77,181-82,189,190,194,256; on Irish, p. 
315. See also Duncan, loc. cit. and passim. 

155. See Kee, pp. 351-470. 

156. See NEB (2003), Vol. 26, “Propaganda,” pp. 176,177. 

157. Ibid., p. 176. 

158. “[A] great deal of [Lenin’s] writing is devoted to the drawing of lines 
between his group and others... there was this great emphasis on sharp differen¬ 
tiation... .” Selznick, p. 127. See Lenin, “What Is to Be Done?,” Chapt. I, section 
D; in Christman, pp. 69-70. 

159. See Kaczynski, pp. 128-189, 377-380; Green Anarchy # 8, “Place the 
Blame Where it Belongs,” p. 19; Kevin Tucker, letter to editor, Anarchy. A Journal 

Chapter Four: Notes 


of Desire Armed# 62 (Fall-Winter 2006), pp. 72-73; T.J. Kaczynski, letter to editor, 
ibid., # 63 (Spring-Summer 2007), pp. 81-82. 

160. Kaczynski, pp. 14-15. ISAIF, paragraphs 213-230, in Kaczynski, 

pp. 106-112. 

161. Matthews, p. 103. 

162. Information about COINTELPRO can be found in the opinion of 
Judge Edwards, Hobson v. Wilson , 737 F. 2d 1 (D.C. Cir. 1984). This means Vol. 
737, Federal Reporter , Second Series, page 1, United States Court of Appeals for 
the District of Columbia Circuit, 1984. For further information see the report 
cited in ibid., p. 10 note 8: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With 
Respect to Intelligence Activities, Final Report, S. Rep. No. 755, Bookll (Intelligence 
Activities and the Rights of Americans), 94th Congress, Second Session (1976). 

163. Warrior WindNo. 2, pp. 1-2 (available at the University of Michigan’s 
Special Collections Library in Ann Arbor). The informer may even have been an 
agente provocatrice. Ibid. 

164. Lipsher, pp. 1A, 25A. Three of the names mentioned in Lipsher’s 
article (Gerlach, Ferguson, Rodgers) are also mentioned in Warrior Wind No. 2, 
pp.5, 8. 

165. Sampson, pp. 170,171,183,245-47, 254,258-260, 313-14, 387. 

166. Kee, pp. 563, 648. 

167. Matthews, pp. 102-03. 

168. Guevara, e.g., p. 261. 

169. Lidtke, p. 94. 

170. Ibid., p. 93. 

171. Ibid., p. 98. 

172. Pipes, p. 25 note 2. 

173. Trotsky, Vol. One, p. 37. Interesting information about the methods 
of the Tsar’s secret police can be found in Vassilyev. 

174. Pipes, pp. 24-25. It may be, however, that Lenin “allowed for” the 
possibility that Malinovsky was a spy, “but thought that... the Bolsheviks benefited 
more than the police from his duplicity.” Ibid. 

175. See Kaczynski, pp. 266, 304-05. 

176. Mao, pp. 58-59, 61-62, 71-72, 77-80,198-208. Not everything in 
this paragraph was explicitly stated by Mao, but all of it can be inferred from what 
he did state explicitly. 

177. All this is a major theme of Selznick’s book. See, e.g., pp. 66-67, 90, 
118-19,150-54,171-72, 175,189-190, 208-09, 212 & note 43. 

178. Cf. ibid., p. 19. 

179. Ibid., pp. 126-28. 

180. Ibid., p. 250. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

181. Ibid., p. 319. Of course, anti-tech people in a radical environmentalist 
group will be able to work only for those radical environmentalist goals that do 
not conflict with the goals of their own anti-tech organization. 

182. Sampson, pp. 210, 215, 242, 337, 491, 574. 

183. Coon, p. 243 (emphasis added). 

184. See, e.g., The Week , Oct. 8, 2010, p. 8, and April 13, 2012, p. 16. 

185. E.g.: Cameras: The Week , Sept. 9, 2011, p. 14; USA Today, Jan. 4, 
2013, p. 7A. Face recognition: The Economist, July 30, 2011, p. 56. Drones: Time, 
Oct. 22, 2007, p. 17 and Nov. 28, 2011, pp. 66-67; The Week, Jan. 14, 2011, p. 
20, March 4, 2011, p. 22, Dec. 23, 2011, p. 14, June 15, 2012, p. 11, and June 
28, 2013, pp. 36-37; The Economist, April 2, 2011, p. 65; Wired, July 2012, pp. 
100—111; ^zr & Space, Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013, pp. 32-39. Mind-reading machines: 
The Economist, Oct. 29,2011, pp. 18, 93-94; Time, Nov. 28,2011, p. 67; The Week, 
Feb. 17, 2012, p. 23. Massive collection of data on individual citizens: The Week, 
Jan. 29, 2010, p. 14 and Sept. 17, 2010, p. 15; USA Today, Jan 7,2013, p. 6A. The 
facts revealed by Edward Snowden have been so widely publicized that it hardly 
seems necessary to cite any articles, but as an example we mention USA Today, 
June 17, 2013, pp. 1A-2A. 

186. This is the “exclusionary rule.” In practice, the federal courts generally 
enforce the exclusionary rule reluctantly and tend to invent exceptions to it. 

187. For COINTELPRO, see note 162, above. For information about legal 
and illegal dirty tricks used by the CIA, see J.B. Smith, passim, e.g., pp. 81-82. 

188. Russell (the entire book). 

189. “New riot-control technology: The sound and the fury,” The Economist, 
Aug. 13, 2011, p. 56. Current (August 2013) events in Egypt suggest that such 
technologies are not yet available in that country. See, e.g., USA Today, Aug. 16, 
2013, p. 1A. 

190. E.g., “The BlackBerry riots,” The Economist, Aug. 13, 2011, p. 52. 

191. Milstein, pp. 40-47. Whittle, pp. 28-33. Markoff, “Pentagon Offers 
Robotics Prize,” p. B4. The Economist, April 2, 2011, p. 65. National Geographic, 
Aug. 2011, pp. 82-83. Time, Jan. 9, 2012, p. 30. Cf. Kaczynski, p. 328. 

192. E.g.: Acohido, “Hactivist group,” p. IB. Acohido 8cEisler, p. 5A. The 
Week, Feb. 18, 2011, p. 6. USA Today, June 1, 2011, p. 2A, and June 11, 2012, p. 
1A. The Economist, March 19, 2011, pp. 89-90 and Dec. 10, 2011, p. 34. 


In Support of Chapter One 

A. In answer to the arguments of Chapter One, true-believing 
technophiles like Ray Kurzweil and Kevin Kelly are likely to answer: 
“Technology will solve all those problems! Human beings will be trans¬ 
formed step by step into man-machine hybrids (cyborgs), or even into pure 
machines, that will be incomparably more intelligent than their human 
ancestors. 1 With their superior intelligence, these beings will be able to use 
the technological miracles of the future to guide the development of their 
society rationally.” However, none of the arguments of Chapter One (with 
one exception, noted below) depend on the limitations of human intelligence 
or on any weaknesses peculiar to human beings, so there is every reason to 
think that the arguments will remain valid for a society derived from the 
present one through the piecemeal replacement of humans by machines in 
the manner envisioned by Kurzweil. 

B. The technophiles won’t be rash enough to claim that any future 
technological miracle will make it possible for a society to predict its own 
development over any substantial interval of time. But some, perhaps, will 
point to the fact that the modern mathematical theory of control now makes 
it possible—in some cases—to design mechanisms that will keep a complex 
system on a fixed course even if only the short-term “eff ect of any potential 
control action applied to the system” can be predicted (though the effect 
must be predictable “precisely... under all possible environmental circum¬ 
stances”). 2 But in the context of control theory a system is called “complex” 
if “the efforts of many persons and the use of special technical equipment 
(computers) are required to draw the whole picture,” 3 and examples of “com¬ 
plex” systems are “[t]he launch of a spaceship, the 24-hour operation of a 
power plant, oil refinery, or chemical factory, the control of air traffic near 
a large airport.” 4 In the present discussion we are dealing with an entirely 
different level of complexity. Any one power plant, oil refinery, or chemical 
factory is extremely simple in comparison with an entire modern society. 



Anti-Tech Revolution 

Actually, a careful reading of what the Britannica says about control 
theory 5 will give scant encouragement to anyone who might like to believe 
that the theory would make possible the rational control of the develop¬ 
ment of an entire society. Among other reasons, control theory generally 
“is applicable to any concrete situation... [only when] that situation can 
be described, with high precision, by a [mathematical] model,” and the 
applicability of the theory is limited by “the agreement between available 
models and the actual behavior of the system to be controlled.” 6 For con¬ 
trol of an entire society one would need a precise mathematical model of, 
among other things, human behavior (or of the behavior of cyborgs or of 
machines descended from humans, which in Kurzweil’s vision would be far 
more complex even than human beings themselves). In special contexts, as 
when one needs only statistical information about human behavior, adequate 
models maybe possible. E.g., in a marketing study one maybe unconcerned 
with the actions of individuals; one may need only such information as 
the percentage of consumers who will buy a given product in specified 
circumstances. But for control of an entire society one would need a precise 
mathematical model of the behavior of each single one of numerous persons 
(whether human persons or machine-persons) including, at the least, all 
those who occupy positions of special importance (political leaders, top- 
level government officials, military officers, corporation executives, etc.) 
and whose individual behavior interacts continuously with the society as a 
whole and has a significant effect on it. 

All the same, let’s make the extremely daring assumption that a pre¬ 
cise mathematical model of our entire society could actually be constructed. 
Even so, it is wildly improbable that sufficient computing power could ever 
be available to handle the trillions upon trillions upon trillions of simulta¬ 
neous equations that would be involved. Remember what we pointed out in 
Part II of Chapter One: that sixty trillion equations would be required just 
for prices in the U.S. economy alone, leaving out of account all other factors 
in U.S. and world society; and that even if some future society had enough 
computing power for control of the present society, it wouldn’t have enough 
to control its own development, because the complexity of a society grows 
right along with its computing power. Finally, even if enough computing 
power were available, it would be impracticable to collect the stupendous 
amount of minutely detailed, highly precise information that would be 
required for insertion of the appropriate numbers into the equations. 

Appendix One: Part C 


Thus, it is safe to conclude that no society will ever be able to set 
up a mathematically designed control system that will keep the society 
forever on a fixed course of development. Let us nevertheless carry to the 
utmost extreme our generosity toward the true-believing technophiles: 
Let’s grant them the impossible and assume that such a control system 
could successfully be designed. Even under this assumption we still run up 
against fundamental difficulties: Who is going to decide what objectives 
are to guide the design of the control system that is to keep the society on a 
fixed course of development, and what fixed course of development should 
be chosen for the society? And how will the society be induced to accept the 
control system and the chosen course of development? If the control system 
is to be approved by the public at large it will have to be a compromise 
solution that in trying to satisfy everyone will satisfy no one. In practice, it 
is unlikely that such a compromise could ever win general acceptance, so 
any control system would have to be forcibly imposed by an authoritarian 
faction that had acquired dictatorial power. In that case—let the citizen 
beware! Furthermore, if any faction ever became powerful enough to impose 
its own solution on society, it would probably be riven thereafter by internal 
power-struggles. (Recall the remark of Benjamin Franklin quoted in Part 
II of Chapter Two, and see Part C of Appendix Two, below.) 

The notion of a future society governed in accord with a mathemat¬ 
ical control system, rationally chosen and designed, can be dismissed as 
science fiction. 

C. Let’s take another look at the idea that we considered and 
disposed of in Part V of Chapter One: that of an all-powerful philosopher- 
king. In order even to entertain the notion that such a philosopher-king 
could rationally steer the development of a society, we already had to 
make assumptions that were wildly improbable. We then noted that, even 
granting those assumptions, we still ran into fundamental difficulties: that 
of selecting a satisfactory philosopher-king and putting him into a position 
of absolute power; and that of ensuring the succession, after the death of 
the original philosopher-king, of a long line of competent and conscientious 
philosopher-kings who would all govern in accord with some stable and 
permanent system of values. 

The technophiles will have a ready answer to the second difficulty: 
They will argue that biotechnology will make it possible in the future 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

to hold back the aging process indefinitely ; 7 hence, our philosopher-king 
will be immortal and the question of choosing a successor will never arise. 
But this still doesn’t solve the problem of rational guidance of a society’s 
development, for people change over time, and our philosopher-king will 
change too. His decisions will affect the society in which he lives in ways 
that will not be fully predictable, and the changes in society will in turn 
affect the philosopher-king’s goals and values in ways that cannot be fore¬ 
seen. Consequently, the society’s development over the long term will 
not be steered in accord with any stable system of values but will drift 

At this point in our discussion—and only at this point—the distinction 
between human beings and intelligent machines becomes relevant: In place 
of a human philosopher-king, technophiles may propose rule by a super¬ 
computer hardwired to adhere forever to a fixed system of values. Even if 
we assume that such a computer could be created and that it would remain 
internally stable, we still face fundamental difficulties: Who is going to 
decide what values are to be hardwired into the electronic philosopher-king, 
and how will they put their electronic philosopher-king into a position of 
absolute power? This is no more easy to answer than the question discussed 
in Part V of Chapter One of how to choose a human philosopher-king and 
put him into a position of absolute power, or the question discussed in Part 
B of this appendix of how to choose a mathematical control system and 
secure the submission of society to its rule. 

It would in any event be impossible to formulate a satisfactory system 
of values. Any values would be sure to give unsatisfactory results if they were 
sufficiently precise and rigid to determine the electronic philosopher-king’s 
decisions in all cases without leaving the machine any substantial discretion 
to make its own value-judgments. This will be clear to anyone who has ever 
done much research in American constitutional law. The rules of decision 
laid down by the courts are full of vague “balancing tests” and indefinite 
“factors” on which judges are supposed to rely in deciding cases. Two judges 
applying the same “balancing test” or “factors” in the same case will often 
come to radically different conclusions; hence the numerous dissenting 
opinions that one finds in the published decisions of the U.S. Circuit Courts 
and the Supreme Court. The reason why the rules of decision are so vague 
and flexible is that it is impossible to formulate precise, rigid principles 
that will determine the outcome of all cases in even a remotely satisfactory 
way. If the courts were held strictly to any such set of rigid principles, they 

Appendix One: Part D 


would be forced to make many decisions that practically everyone would 
regard as unreasonable. 

On the other hand, if the system of values hardwired into the elec¬ 
tronic philosopher-king were sufficiently vague or flexible to allow the 
machine any significant leeway to make its own value-judgments, gone 
would be the stability of values that the hardwiring was supposed to ensure. 
Where principles are in any substantial degree vague or flexible, one can 
usually find awayto justify almost anything in terms of them. Hence, two 
decisions that are both arguably in harmony with the same set of principles 
can have radically different practical consequences; this again is seen in 
the dissenting as against the majority opinions of the U.S. federal courts. 

Thus, even apart from all other difficulties, the impossibility of for¬ 
mulating a satisfactory system of values is by itself sufficient to justify us 
in dismissing as science fiction the notion of a future society ruled by a 
supercomputer hardwired to govern according to a stable and permanent 
system of values, if the system of values is expected to give results that we 
would regard as even marginally acceptable. 

D. The reader may wonder why we have even bothered with this 
excursion into science fiction. But for the problems facing our society today 
it is likely that technophiles will envision future solutions that to most 
people will look like science fiction. Ray Kurzweil’s book, for example, 
is full of that type of material, and much of it is indeed science fiction. 
Nonetheless, it is always risky to dismiss ideas about future technological 
developments as science fiction solely because they seem implausible on 
vague intuitive grounds. Things that seemed implausible at the outset of the 
Industrial Revolution, or even just a few decades ago, are not the least bit 
implausible today. To mention only one example, back in the 1950s, when 
Moore’s Law had never been heard of, most people, probably including most 
computer scientists, would have dismissed as implausible the suggestion 
that fifty years later every Tom, Dick, and Harry would hold comfortably 
in his lap more computing power than that of a whole roomful of 1950s 
computing machinery costing millions of dollars. Futuristic proposals need 
to be examined critically and dismissed as science fiction only when good 
reasons for the dismissal have been found. 

But whatever technological miracles the future may have in store, we 
think there are excellent reasons for dismissing as science fiction the notion 
that the development of a society will ever be subject to rational guidance. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 


1. Kurzweil, e.g., pp. 194-203, 307-311, 324-26, 374-77, 472. 

2. NEB (2003), Vol. 25, “Optimization, Mathematical Theory of,” p. 224. 

3. Ibid., p. 223. 

4. Ibid., p. 224. 

5. Ibid., pp. 223-26. 

6. Ibid., p. 224. 

7. E.g., “Mr. Immortality,” The Week , Nov. 16,2007, pp. 52-53; Grossman, 
pp. 46-47; Kurzweil, pp. 9, 212-15, 371. 


In Support of Chapter Two 

A. Proposition 2 of Chapter Two states that in the short term, natural 
selection favors self-propagating systems that pursue their own short-term 
advantage with little or no regard for long-term consequences. 

• Steven Le Blanc 1 argues that among primitive societies natural 
selection favors ecological recklessness. Suppose one group lives prudently 
within its resources while a neighboring group allows its population to grow 
to the point where its resources are over-strained, so that its environment 
is damaged and it can no longer feed itself adequately. In order to find an 
outlet for its surplus population, the second group may try to take the first 
group’s territory by force, and it is likely to succeed, because it has more 
people and can put more warriors into the field than the first group can. 
“This smacks of a Darwinian competition—survival of the fittest—between 
societies. Note that the ‘fittest’ of our two groups was not the more ecolog¬ 
ical, it was the one that grew faster.” 2 Le Blanc admits that his argument is 
oversimplified, 3 and certainly it is not applicable in all circumstances, but 
it does seem to contain a good deal of truth. 

• During the 1920s the Soviets needed to acquire technological 
equipment from industrialized countries in order to catch up with the 
West economically, so they resorted to trade with Western capitalists. 4 
One might have thought that capitalists would refuse to trade with com¬ 
munists, since the latter were bent on destroying capitalism, but in order 
to make a profit the capitalists were willing, as Lenin allegedly put it, to 
“sell the rope to their own hangmen.” 5 In 1971, Alinsky claimed to “feel 
confident” that he could “persuade a millionaire on a Friday to subsidize 
a revolution for Saturday out of which he would make a huge profit on 
Sunday even though he was certain to be executed on Monday.” 6 Alinsky 
was exaggerating for humorous effect, but his remark does reflect a truth 
about capitalism. It’s easy to attribute the capitalists’ shortsightedness to 
“greed,” but there is a reason why capitalists are greedy: Those who forgo 
profit in the present from concern for long-term consequences tend to be 
eliminated by natural selection. 



Anti-Tech Revolution 

• The U.S. financial crisis that began in 2007 resulted from the 
widespread offering of risky (“subprime”) loans to borrowers who needed the 
money to buy homes but might never be able to pay it back. 7 Lenders such as 
savings-and-loan associations sold the right to collect their subprime loans 
to other financial organizations, which sold the right in turn to still other 
organizations, and so forth, in a process much too complex to be described 
here. The subprime loan market was so lucrative and important that even 
the government-sponsored enterprise known as Fannie Mae feared “the 
danger that the market would pass [it] by” 8 if it refused to deal in subprime 
loans. Fannie Mae was so big and powerful that its survival would not have 
been threatened if it had not participated in the subprime loan market, 
but we can imagine that many smaller, private financial enterprises would 
have been unable to survive in the face of competition if they had failed 
to make use of the opportunities offered by subprime loans. However, for 
enterprises that did make use of those opportunities there was a terrible 
price to be paid when the housing bubble burst. Even the two gigantic 
government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, collapsed 
and had to be rescued by the government. 9 Needless to say, many private 
financial enterprises too went bankrupt. 10 What appears to have happened 
is that the pressure of competition forced these enterprises to take risks 
that later had fatal consequences. No doubt greed too was involved, but, 
as we pointed out a moment ago, capitalists who are not greedy tend to be 
eliminated by natural selection. 

• In the modern world, international trade is highly important for 
the economic success of the nations involved; 11 it is even believed that no 
modern nation could survive economically if it did not participate in inter¬ 
national trade. 12 But in the longer term such trade entails serious risks: 

[A] country that has become heavily involved in international trade 
has given hostages to fortune: a part of its industry has become depen¬ 
dent upon export markets for income and for employment. Any cutoff 
of these foreign markets... would be acutely serious; and yet it would 
be a situation largely beyond the power of the domestic government 
involved to alter. Similarly, another part of domestic industry may 
rely on an inflow of imported raw materials, such as oil for fuel and 
power. Any restriction of these imports could have the most serious 
consequences; 13 

Appendix Two: Part B 


and reliance on the importation of manufactured goods too can be risky. 14 

It’s possible that Germany’s dependence on international trade was 
a decisive factor in that country’s defeat in World War I, for the British 
blockade was so effective in cutting off German trade that by the end of the 
war it had brought Germany to the verge of starvation. 15 On the other hand, 
Britain’s dependence on international trade would have led to a German 
victory in either World War I or World War II if the British hadn’t suc¬ 
ceeded, with American help, in defeating Germany’s submarine campaign, 
for the U-boats would otherwise have starved Britain into submission. 16 
What we see, therefore, is that for the sake of economic survival in the 
short term nations must take the risk of allowing themselves to become 
dependent on international trade, even though their dependence may have 
grave or even fatal consequences in the long run. 

• It is currently believed that the United States is “the most prof¬ 
ligate or wasteful” of all developed countries in its use and abuse of its 
natural resources. 17 This has probably been true throughout U.S. history. 
In colonial times, American farming methods were recognized as highly 
improvident in comparison with European ones, 18 and Zimmermann points 
out the reckless and wasteful way in which, during the 1860s and 1870s, 
the fabled Comstock Lode in Nevada was exhausted within twenty years, 
whereas, says Zimmermann, a similar body of ore in Europe would have 
provided thousands of miners with a livelihood for centuries. 19 This was 
probably typical of American mining practices at the time. Yet America’s 
profligacy in the use of its natural resources didn’t prevent it from becom¬ 
ing the world’s dominant economic power. And the country that is now 
beginning to challenge America’s dominance is China, which is notorious 
for its environmental irresponsibility. 20 As these examples illustrate, reckless 
exploitation of natural resources can favor the achievement of power in the 
short term, however deadly its long-term consequences may be. 

B. In connection with Propositions 4 and 5 of Part II of Chapter 
Two, we mentioned that pre-industrial empires stretching over vast dis¬ 
tances “actively created, if they did not already have, relatively rapid means 
of transportation and communication.” 

The Egyptians had the Nile. The Romans relied heavily on water 
transport over the Mediterranean and the rivers that flowed into it, 21 and 
for overland travel they built their famous roads. Imperial China had an 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

extensive system of canals. 22 The Song (Sung) dynasty “maintained high¬ 
ways, with staffed stations, for official travel and a courier service network, 
the latter being an index of centralized government control,” and moreover 
“carried out a program of public works including construction and repair 
of roads, ... bridges, ... transport and communications facilities... .” 23 
Presumably other dynasties too did something of that sort. The Mongol 
empire of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan “utilized homing pigeons as messen¬ 
gers” and had “an extensive system of messenger posts” through which relays 
of riders carried messages at top speed. 24 The Incas maintained roads over 
which relays of runners could carry messages rapidly, while freight was 
transported on the backs of human porters or llamas. 25 

The Maya never built an empire of any substantial extent, and their 
lack of developed facilities for long-distance transportation or communica¬ 
tion probably had something to do with this. 26 The Aztecs likewise lacked 
developed facilities for long-distance transportation or communication, 27 
yet their “empire” at its peak measured roughly 500 miles in its maximum 
dimension, not counting the detached territory of Soconusco. 28 However, 
the Aztec “empire” hardly deserved that name: Conquered peoples could be 
forced to pay taxes or contribute troops for Aztec campaigns, but in other 
respects centralized control was almost nonexistent. 29 Even at that, the 
“empire” had evidently reached the maximum geographical extent that was 
possible with the existing means of transportation and communication, 30 
and it was probably unstable, for revolts were frequent. 31 

C. It seems clear in general that internal dissension within large 
human groups tends to be inversely proportional to the magnitude of exter¬ 
nal threats or challenges to the group, so that a dramatic reduction of 
external threats or challenges tends to be followed by a marked increase in 
internal dissension. Here, as so often elsewhere, “clean” historical exam¬ 
ples are scarce, due to the complexity of historical developments in the 
real world. See note 7 to Chapter Two. But we offer four relatively clean 

• “The general view of thinking Romans was that the relaxation 
of external pressures” due to “the temporary end of the age of major wars 
(ca 130 BC)” was what led to the “internal disintegration” of the Roman 
Republic. 32 Though the Britannica seems uncertain, it’s hard to believe that 
the relaxation of external pressures was not at least a contributing factor in 
the rise of internal conflict at Rome. 

Appendix Two: Part D 


• “The landing of Spanish troops near Tampico [about 1829] rallied 
the [Mexican] nation to a unified effort, and the intrepid General Santa 
Anna... defeated the invaders... . For a moment, the victory bolstered 
Mexican national pride. But now the danger from abroad that had served 
to unite the country... vanished and internal dissensions took on a new 
and ugly face.” 33 

• With the disappearance of the external danger from Britain at 
the end of the American War of Independence in 1783, “disunity began 
to threaten to turn into disintegration. ... The states were setting up their 
own tariff barriers against each other and quarreling among themselves... .” 
This no doubt is why John Adams (the future President) wrote not long 
after the end of the war that the United States needed an external enemy 
to protect it from the “danger of dividing.” 34 

• During the latter part of World War II, when it had become clear 
that Germany was irrevocably on the road to defeat, “the Anglo-American 
accord, which had held very strongly during the testing two and a half years 
of defeat followed by only peripheral attack, instead of being warmed by 
the sun of victory began badly to cool. ... [The dispute about Operation 
Anvil] escalated between 21 June and 1 July [1944] from disagreements at 
the Chiefs of Staff level to exchanges between Prime Minister and President 
that were far more acrimonious than anything which had previously passed 
between them. ... [T]he Anvil disagreement was the beginning of a new 
pattern. Before it the American and British Chiefs of Staff had rarely 
disagreed on a major issue. After it they were rarely on the same side of 
any issue... .” 35 

D. In Part II of Chapter Two we discuss self-prop systems that arise 
to challenge the dominant global self-prop systems. All the examples we 
give there consist of (formal or informal) organizations of human beings, 
but self-prop systems that challenge the global self-prop systems also appear 
at the biological level. Thus there are invasive species—plants or animals 
that multiply uncontrollably in new environments 36 —and new infectious 
diseases (e.g., AIDS and Lyme disease) that arise more rapidly than means 
for curing or preventing them can be found. 37 In addition, older varieties of 
disease-causing bacteria that once seemed well under control have evolved 
new forms that are resistant to antibiotics, so that the corresponding diseases 
are difficult or impossible to cure. 38 


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But in the long run these self-prop systems will probably b e less dan¬ 
gerous to the global self-prop systems than will those biological self-prop 
systems that have been intentionally or unintentionally created or altered 
through direct human action, e.g., through genetic engineering. One would 
have to be extraordinarily naive to imagine that organisms created, altered, 
or manipulated by humans will always remain safely under control, and 
in fact there already have been cases in which such organisms have not 
remained under control, including cases in which organisms have escaped 
from research facilities. 39 Such escaped organisms have the potential to 
do serious harm. 40 For example, the so-called “killer bees” are a hybrid of 
European and African bees that escaped from a research facility in Brazil. 
Since then they have spread over much of South America and into the 
United States, and they have killed hundreds of people. 41 

It’s true that, to date, none of these biological self-prop systems 
has come close to threatening the survival of any of the dominant global 
self-prop systems, but present-day biotechnology is still in its infancy in 
comparison with what we can expect for the coming decades. As human 
interventions in biology reach further and further, the risk of disastrous 
consequences continually rises, and as long as the technological equip¬ 
ment needed for such interventions exists, there are no practicable means 
of controlling this risk. Small groups of amateurs are already dabbling in 
genetic engineering. 42 These amateurs wouldn’t have to create synthetic life 
or do anything highly sophisticated in order to bring on a disaster; merely 
changing a few genes in an existing organism could have catastrophic con¬ 
sequences. The chances of disaster in any one instance may be remote, but 
there are potentially thousands or millions of amateurs who could begin 
monkeying with the genes of microorganisms, and thousands or millions 
of minute risks can add up to a very substantial risk. 

Some people think it may become possible in the future to create 
microscopic (“nanotechnological”), non-biological self-prop systems that 
could reproduce themselves uncontrollably, with deadly consequences for 
the whole world. 43 Others claim that (macroscopic) self-reproducing robots 
will probably be built, and even the rabid technophile Ray Kurzweil admits 
that such machines will evolve beyond the control of human beings. 44 This 
writer does not have the technical expertise to judge whether such specula¬ 
tions are plausible or whether they should be dismissed as science fiction. 
Yet, today’s science fiction often turns out to be tomorrow’s fact. 

Appendix Two: Part E 


Because of their ability to reproduce themselves by the billions in a 
short time, microscopic self-prop systems, biological or not, may prove to 
be especially dangerous to the global self-prop systems. On the other hand, 
human self-prop systems may turn out to be more dangerous after all, not 
only because they are intelligent, but also because they exist as subsystems 
of the global self-prop systems and therefore can potentially impair the 
integrity of the latter. But this line of inquiry is leading us too far into 
speculation, so well drop it here. 

E. In Part II of Chapter Two we’ve argued that when only relatively 
few individuals are available from among which to select the “fittest” (in 
the Darwinian sense), the process of natural selection will be inefficient in 
producing self-propagating systems that are fit for survival. We illustrate 
with an example. 

The inefficiency of government agencies or enterprises, in compar¬ 
ison with private enterprises, is notorious, and the reason is clear: Natural 
selection is not operative among the agencies or enterprises of a given 
government. If a government-owned or government-controlled agency or 
enterprise is inefficient—even grossly inefficient—the government tries to 
reform it in some way, or simply gives it enough money to keep it from col¬ 
lapsing. Rarely indeed will a government allow such an agency or enterprise 
to die a natural death. In contrast, private enterprises that become inefficient 
are (barring government interference) eliminated by natural selection. 45 

It seems safe to say that among private enterprises—just as among 
biological organisms—natural selection leads to the evolution of sophis¬ 
ticated mechanisms that promote the vigor of such enterprises— including 
mechanisms that are too complex or subtle to be understood, controlled, or even 
recognized by human beings. Students of business administration do of course 
understand many of the mechanisms at work in successful enterprises. 
Clearly, however, they are far from a complete understanding of all such 
mechanisms, for if the principles underlying the efficient functioning of 
private enterprises were fully understood, then government agencies or 
enterprises could be made equally efficient by applying to them the same 
principles. Government agencies and enterprises do try to apply the known 
principles of business administration, but they nevertheless remain far less 
efficient than private enterprises—because a great deal of what makes an 
enterprise efficient remains unknown to, or beyond the control of, human 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

However, even i f natural selection is inoperative among the agencies 
or enterprises belonging to a given government, natural selection does 
operate on governments and on the nations they govern. For example, when 
the countries of the communist bloc failed to compete successfully with 
the West, their governments and their economic systems were radically 
transformed in imitation of Western governments and economic systems. 
The Soviet Union broke apart, and from its fragments new nations under 
new governments were born. So why doesn’t natural selection make national 
governments, including governmental agencies and enterprises, equal to 
private enterprises in vigor and efficiency? 

In any capitalist system there are many thousands of business enter¬ 
prises. New enterprises are continually being formed, while some older 
enterprises go bankrupt, or are absorbed by more powerful enterprises, 
or are split into two or more separate enterprises. Thus, ample scope for 
evolution through natural selection is provided by the number of business 
enterprises and the fluidity with which such enterprises are formed or 
eliminated. But there are only about two hundred sovereign nations in the 
world. The creation of new nations and the demise of old ones are infrequent 
events. Likewise infrequent is the replacement of a nation’s government 
by a new government of a different type. Thus, among nations and their 
governments, there is only relatively limited scope for evolution through 
natural selection, and this, we think, explains why governments, with their 
agencies and enterprises, have not evolved to the same level of efficiency 
as private enterprises have. 

F. One of the most serious mistakes that people make in thinking 
about the development of societies is to assume that human beings make 
collective decisions of their own free will and can impose those decisions 
on their society, as if human volition were something existing outside of the 
organizational structures of society and capable of acting independently of 
those structures. In reality, human volition is to a very significant extent 
a product of the organizational structures of society, for one of the most 
important factors that determine the success of an organization is its capac¬ 
ity for people-management, that is, its ability to induce people to think and 
act in ways that serve the needs of the organization. 

Some techniques of people-management maybe described as “exter¬ 
nal,” meaning that they are used to influence the thought and behavior of 
people who are not members of the organization that applies the techniques. 

Appendix Two: Part F 


External techniques include, among others, those of propaganda and public 
relations. Propaganda and public relations techniques can also be applied 
internally, to manage the behavior of the members of the organization that 
applies the techniques; and other techniques are designed specifically for 
internal use. Business schools give courses in a subject called “Organizational 
Behavior,” which is, in part, the study of techniques through which an orga¬ 
nization can manage the behavior of its own members. 46 Also important 
are techniques for selecting individuals who are suited to become members 
of a given organization. 47 

But we maintain that the people-managing capability of organi¬ 
zations is not limited to techniques, that is, to methods understood and 
consciously applied by human beings. We argue that through natural 
selection organizations evolve mechanisms not recognized or understood 
by human beings that tend to induce people to act in ways that serve the 
needs of the organization. This ties in with what we argued in Part E of 
this Appendix, about the operation of natural selection among business 

Of course, all these conscious and unconscious mechanisms put 
together are very far from achieving complete control over human behav¬ 
ior. The mechanisms are effective only in a statistical sense: They tend on 
average to make people think and act in ways that serve the organizations 
that possess the mechanisms, but different individuals are influenced in dif¬ 
ferent degrees, and there are always exceptional individuals whose thought 
and behavior are radically at odds with those that would serve the needs of 
the organizations in question. 

Nevertheless, organizations’ capabilities for people-management, 
whether they are consciously applied techniques or subtly evolved mech¬ 
anisms unrecognized by humans, are highly important, and people who 
make naive statements like, “We [meaning society at large] can choose to 
stop damaging our environment”—as if the human race had some sort of 
collective free will—are out of touch with practical reality. 

A moment ago we said that, through natural selection, organizations 
evolve mechanisms not recognized or understood by human beings that 
tend to induce people to act in ways that serve the needs of the organization. 
Let’s illustrate with an example. 

Until recent times, when technological and economic strength 
became paramount in warfare, the fighting quality of a society’s soldiers 
was an important factor in the process of natural selection among societies. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

All else being equal, those societies that produced the best warriors tended 
to expand their power at the expense of other societies. It’s unlikely that 
military experts would attribute differences in fighting quality solely to 
causes that are known and controlled by human beings, such as training 
techniques or methods of military organization. Rather, there are cultural 
differences among societies—differences that can be identified, if at all, 
only on a highly speculative basis—that affect the fighting quality of sol¬ 
diers. Presumably societies have evolved, through natural selection, cultural 
mechanisms that have tended to produce better soldiers. 

Warriors of primitive societies, or of societies at a relatively early stage 
of civilization, have seldom been able to stand up in pitched battles against 
trained and experienced European troops, unless the latter were grossly 
outnumbered, taken by surprise, confused by unfamiliar terrain, or other¬ 
wise placed at a grave disadvantage. 48 This cannot be attributed solely to 
the superiority of European weapons, 49 which indeed have not always been 
superior under the relevant conditions of combat. Nor can it be attributed to 
physical courage; if anything, primitives are probably braver on an individual 
basis than Europeans are. 50 The superiority of European troops can best be 
attributed to (unidentified) cultural mechanisms evolved through natural 
selection in the course of millennia, during which European history has 
been characterized by constant warfare. Of course, there has always been 
warfare among primitives, too, but such warfare has typically been carried 
on primarily through guerrilla-like raids rather than pitched battles. So it’s 
not surprising that primitives tend to make excellent guerrilla fighters but 
are rarely able to put together a regular army capable of facing Europeans 
on equal terms. Societies at an early stage of civilization, like those of 
the Aztecs and Incas, ordinarily have had extensive experience of pitched 
battles, but perhaps have not been subjected to selection through that type 
of warfare for the same length of time or at the same level of intensity as 
European societies have; and this maybe the reason why their armies have 
been unable to stand up against European ones. 

The fighting qualities of soldiers could be argued ad infinitum, but 
our interest here is not in fighting qualities per se (nor do we mean to make 
any value judgment about such qualities). Our purpose at the moment is 
only to illustrate the point that human organizations evolve, through natural 
selection, mechanisms that favor their survival and expansion, including 
mechanisms that are not understood or recognized by human beings. 

Appendix Two: Part G 


G. In commenting on an earlier, less complete exposition of the 
theory developed in Chapter Two of this book, Dr. Skrbina observed that a 
small, isolated island might be considered analogous, for the purposes of the 
theory, to the Earth as a whole, and he raised by implication the question of 
whether a counterexample to the theory might be found on a small island 
without human inhabitants. 51 A proper discussion of this question would 
require a good knowledge of the biology of small, isolated islands, which 
this writer does not have. Let’s merely take note of the fact that the smaller 
the island, the less biodiversity it has. 52 This perhaps makes it doubtful 
whether the ecosystem of such an island could be “highly complex” (as 
students of industrial accidents use that term); or whether it could be “rich” 
enough so that (under Proposition 1 of Chapter Two) new self-propagating 
systems would continually arise to challenge the dominant ones. 

So much for islands without human inhabitants. It may be worth¬ 
while, however, to glance briefly at small, isolated islands occupied by 
humans at a primitive technological level, ofwhichjared Diamond provides 
us with two relevant examples: Easter Island and Tikopia. Easter Island 
certainly offers no counterexample to our theory, since its inhabitants did 
indeed devastate it as far as was possible with the limited technology at 
their disposal. 53 Tikopia, on the other hand, merits a closer look. 

Tikopia is so tiny (1.8 square miles 54 ) that a good runner could doubt¬ 
less go from one end of the island to the other in somewhere between ten 
minutes and an hour, depending on the shape of the island, the nature of 
the terrain, and the straightness or crookedness of the footpaths. Thus, 
sufficiently rapid transportation and communication were possible between 
any two parts of Tikopia, and self-prop systems spanning the entire 
island—analogous to the global self-prop systems considered in Chapter 
Two—could have developed. 

It’s impossible to know whether such self-prop systems did in fact 
develop on Tikopia in the remote past. What we do know is that in the 
course of their first 800 years on the island the original settlers did devas¬ 
tate Tikopia ecologically, 55 but—probably because they had no advanced 
technology—they apparently didn’t devastate it so thoroughly as to cause a 
major die-off of the human population. Instead, they were able to support 
themselves by adopting new methods of food production. 56 It’s not clear 
that their economy could be called stable, since they changed it repeatedly 
over the next 2,000 years until significant European intervention occurred 
around 1900 AD. But they didn’t suffer economic collapse. 57 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

The Tikopians moreover seem to have achieved something analogous 
to the “world peace” considered in Part II of Chapter Two—though it was 
not entirely stable, as we’ll point out in a moment. To the extent that it was 
stable, its stability can be attributed to the fact that Tikopian society was 
neither highly complex nor tightly coupled, and was not “rich” enough (in 
the sense of Proposition 1 of Chapter Two) so that new self-prop systems 
would frequently arise to challenge the island’s dominant self-prop systems. 
The total population of the island was only about 1,300, 58 and within a 
culturally uniform population of that size we wouldn’t necessarily expect 
any new, strong, aggressive self-propagating human groups to arise within 
any reasonable period of time. 

Even so, the Tikopian “world peace” was not so stable as to prevent 
all destructive competition: On at least two occasions there were wars in 
which entire clans were exterminated. 59 Because the Tikopians fought only 
with primitive weapons (bows and arrows, etc.), their wars damaged only 
the Tikopians themselves and not their environment. We can imagine what 
would have happened if they had had advanced technology to fight their 
wars with; most of us have seen photographs of World War I battlefields 
ravaged by high-explosive shells, whole forests torn to shreds and so forth. 
Of course, it’s highly unlikely that an island the size ofTikopia could have 
the mineral resources to sustain an advanced technology. But if it did, 
then even nonviolent economic competition—even just mining activities 
alone—would have been enough to ruin the island. 

Thus the example ofTikopia does not undercut the theory developed 
in Chapter Two. Because the islanders lacked advanced technology, and 
because their society was neither highly complex nor tightly coupled and 
was not “rich” enough to ensure the frequent emergence (under Proposition 
1 of Chapter Two) of vigorous new self-prop systems, Tikopia did not satisfy 
the conditions for the theory to be applicable. 


1. Le Blanc, pp. 73-75. 

2. Ibid., p. 75. 

3. Ibid., p. 73. 

4. NEB (2003), Vol. 21, “International Relations,” p. 829. 

5. Ibid. But it’s not clear whether Lenin ever actually made that statement. 
See Horowitz, p. 152. 

Appendix Two: Notes 


6. Alinsky, p. 150. 

7. The story is told by Peterson and, less completely, by Utt. 

8. Peterson, p. 150 note 6. See also pp. 160-63. 

9. Ibid., pp. 151, 167. 

10. Ibid., pp. 150-51. Utt, p. 12. 

11. NEB (2003), Vol. 21, “International Trade,” pp. 900-03. 

12. Ibid., p. 905 (“There is general agreement that no modern nation... 
could really practice self-sufficiency...”). 

13. Ibid. See also “Relying on China is a big mistake,” The Week, Oct. 22, 

2010, p. 18. 

14. See “How supply chains hinge on Asia,” The Week, Nov. 11,2011, p. 42. 

15. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, “Germany,” p. 115; Vol. 21, “International 
Relations,” p. 814; Vol. 29, “War, Theory and Conduct of,” p. 652, and “World 
Wars,” pp. 963, 969, 976, 986. 

16. Ibid., Vol. 29, “World Wars,” pp. 963, 969-970, 976, 977, 979-980, 

17. GMO Quarterly Letter, April 2011, p. 18. Since GMO is a large invest¬ 
ment firm, it is hardly likely to have leftist or radical-environmentalist leanings. 

18. Boorstin, pp. 105,120,163,193,260,261,263-65. W.S. Randall, pp. 
189, 229. 

19. Zimmermann, pp. 266-67. This doesn’t necessarily mean that European 
mining methods were more environmentally sound than American ones. 

20. Presumably China is not considered a “developed country.” Cf. note 
17. China’s environmental irresponsibility is so well known that it doesn’t seem 
necessary to cite any authority, but as examples we mention “The cracks in China’s 
engine,” The Week, Oct. 8, 2010, p. 15; Bradsher, p. A8; USA Today, Feb. 25, 
2014, p.2A. 

21. Pirenne, e.g., pp. 166-173, 194-95, 236. Elias, pp. 224, 229. 

22. Mote, pp. 17-18, 646-653. 

23. NEB (2003), Vol. 16, “China,” p. 106. Mote, p. 359. For roads, bridges, 
postal relays, and transport systems under the Ming and the Qing (Ch’ing) dynas¬ 
ties, see Mote, pp. 620-21, 647, 714, 749, 903, 917, 946. 

24. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “War, Technology of,” p. 622. See also Mote, 

p. 436. 

25. Malpass, pp. 68-69. 

26. See Diamond, pp. 164-66. 

27. See Davies, p. 200. 

28. Ibid., p. 220, map. According to the map the straight-line distance from 
the capital, Tenochtitlan, to Soconusco (city) was just a hair over 500 miles, though 
Davies, p. 190, says it was 600 miles. Note that the location of Tenochtitlan was 
essentially the same as that of the later Mexico City. Ibid., p. 9, map. Merriam- 
Webster Dictionary (2004), p. 933, “Tenochtitlan.” 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

29. Davies, pp. 46,110-14,128,199-201, 218, 219. 

30. Ibid., pp. 183-84, 191, 199-200, 207. 

31. Ibid., pp. 107, 110, 112, 128, 201, 204-05, 207, 221. It should be 
remembered, however, that all Aztec history prior to the arrival of the Spaniards 
is based on sources of very doubtful reliability. See ibid., p. xiv. 

32. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, “Greek and Roman Civilizations,” p. 300. 

33. Bazant, p. 43. 

34. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, “United States of America,” pp. 216-17. See 
also McCullough, pp. 397-98. Adams wrote his comment about the need for an 
external enemy in the margin of a book he was reading. Haraszti, p. 149. From 
ibid., pp. 140-42, it can be inferred that Adams probably wrote the comment in 
1784 and certainly wrote it before Franklin’s death in 1790. 

35. Jenkins, pp. 748-750. 

36. E.g., Sodhi, Brook &, Bradshaw, p. 516; Weise, “Invasive Species,” p. 
4A. Examples: Pythons in Florida. The Week , Feb. 17, 2012, p. 23. Kudzu vine 
in eastern U.S., quagga mussels in Lake Michigan. Invasive species are “a nasty 
side effect of modern transportation technology,” by means of which exotic species 
are intentionally or unintentionally brought into new environments. “Nature’s 
marauders,” The Week, Dec. 10,2010, p. 15. Attempts to control invasive species by 
introducing nonnative predators tend to backfire because the predators themselves 
are likely to get out of control. Hamilton, p. 58. 

37. “Since the mid-1970s, more than 30 new diseases have emerged... . 
Most of these are believed to have moved from wildlife to human populations. ... 
Damaged ecosystems—characterized by toxins, degradation of habitat, removal 
of species and climate change—create conditions for pathogens to move in ways 
they wouldn’t normally move.” “Tracking Disease,” Newsweek , Nov. 14, 2005, p. 
46. Once a disease has crossed over to humans from some other species, modern 
transportation technology, population density, and urbanization make it possible 
for the disease to spread widely. Quammen, p. 102. “AIDS in the 19th Century?,” 
The Week, Oct. 17, 2008, p. 24. New diseases often are mutated forms of earlier 
ones. E.g., ibid.; “Mutant rabies is spreading,” ibid., May 22, 2009, p. 19. 

38. E.g.: Allan, p. 34. The Economist, April 2, 2011, pp. 73-75. USA Today, 
Oct. 28, 2013, p. 10A; Dec. 17, 2013, pp. 1A-2A; March 5, 2014, p. 6B. 

39. E.g., “Experimental Cotton Seed in Accidental Mix,” Denver Post, 
Dec. 4, 2008, p. 13A. See also ibid., Aug. 23, 2005, p. 2B (“Genetically modified 
wheat pollen can drift to other plants more easily than scientists believed, passing 
genes to... weeds... .”). 

40. E.g., “Labs suspected in British cow-disease outbreak,” Denver Post, 
Aug. 8, 2007, p. 14A. Chronic Wasting Disease, similar to mad-cow disease, 
“was first detected in western North American deer and elk in the 1970s, possibly 
(some people suggest) because deer housed for studies at a western university in a 

Appendix Two: Notes 


pen near scrapie-infected sheep were released into the wild... Diamond, p. 54. 
Due to inadequate record-keeping, a U.S. Army research laboratory seemed to 
have lost 9,200 vials of “deadly germs and toxins.” Denver Post, April 23, 2009, 
p. 9A. The vials were eventually found, ibid., June 18, 2009, p. 13A, but sloppy 
record-keeping at such a laboratory is not encouraging. 

41. Blau, especially pp. 16-18. NEB (2003), Vol. 2, “bee,” p. 42. Cf. 
Kaczynski, p. 310. 

42. Weise, “DIY Biopunks,” p. 7A. 

43. Joy, pp. 246-48. Keiper, pp. 27-28. See also “A molecular motor,” The 
Week, Sept. 23, 2011, p. 23 (reporting nano-sized “motor”). 

44. Robots of the future “should be able to self-replicate.” “What are the 
odds?,” The Week, July 2-9, 2010, p. 45 (summarizing an article from Scientific 
American, June 2010). 

45. Compare Steele, pp. 87-88. 

46. See, e.g., Bowditch, Buono 8c Stewart. 

47. Peck, pp. 74-84. 

48. E.g., Davies, pp. 249-250, 271 (military superiority of Spaniards over 
Aztecs). Ibid., p. 252 (“It was only... by bombarding [the Spaniards] from the 
rooftops in Tenochtitlan, or from above the deep ravines in Peru, that the Indians 
were able to achieve a measure of success.”). 

49. E.g., the North American Indians “could not stand up against a bayonet 
charge,” Wissler, p. 93, even though bayonets would have been no more effec¬ 
tive than the spears of primitives. Davies, pp. 250-51, discusses the reasons for 
the Spaniards’ military superiority over the Aztecs, including their purportedly 
superior weapons, and then concludes on p. 252: “The psychological superiority 
of the Spaniards in the battle-field was probably more decisive than any other 
factor... . Face to face, the Indians were simply not a match for the Spaniards... .” 

50. E.g., Davies, p. 250 (Spanish chroniclers insisted on the bravery of the 
Aztecs); p. 277 (referring to “many feats of individual bravery” by Aztecs against 
Spaniards). Turnbull, Change and Adaptation, pp. 89-90, 92, describes traditional 
Africans’ contempt for the cowardice of Europeans. 

51. Letter from David Skrbina to the author, Aug. 10, 2011. 

52. Edward O. Wilson has “offered a formula that mathematically predicts 
a geometric reduction in the biodiversity of a given habitat as the size of the habitat 
shrinks.” French, p. 72. 

53. Diamond, pp. 79-119. 

54. Ibid., p. 286. 

55. Ibid., p. 292. 

56. Ibid. 

57. Ibid. 

58. Ibid., p. 289. 

59. Ibid., p. 291. 


Stay on Target 

What follows is a heavily rewritten excerpt from a letter to the Editor- 
in-Chief of the John Jay Sentinel, a student newspaper at the John Jay College 
of Criminal Justice. In its original form the letter was published in the 
March 2011 and April 2011 issues of the Sentinel. The editor had correctly 
pointed out that economic competition under capitalism encouraged the 
development of technology, and he asked me whether it would therefore 
be worthwhile to spend time and effort on eliminating capitalism. Here 
is my answer: 

Those of us who believe that the technological system is an evil are 
often tempted to attack some of the subordinate evils that are associated 
with it, such as capitalism, globalization, centralization, bureaucracy, big, 
intrusive governments, environmental recklessness, and gross economic 
inequality. This temptation should be resisted. One may, of course, use 
evils like those I’ve listed as tools to attack the technological system by 
pointing out that similar evils inevitably accompany any such system. But 
it is inadvisable to attack any of the subordinate evils independently of an 
attack on the technological system as a whole. 

What makes the subordinate evils tempting targets for attack is that 
there already are substantial numbers of people who strongly resent them 
and could be rallied to resist them; and if any of these evils could be elim¬ 
inated, the growth of the technological system would be retarded and its 
negative consequences somewhat mitigated. Capitalism, for instance, is at 
present the economic system that is most conducive to technological devel¬ 
opment, so if you could get rid of capitalism you would to some extent slow 
technological progress; in addition, you would reduce economic inequal¬ 
ity. Globalization contributes to economic and technological efficiency 
because there are obvious advantages to a system in which natural, human, 
and technical resources can be freely transferred from any one part of the 
world to any other part where they may be needed. So if you could do 
away with globalization and isolate each region of the world economically 



Anti-Tech Revolution 

from all the others, technological progress would be significantly slowed. 
Centralization too is important to technological progress. For example, in 
order to keep the U.S. economy functioning properly there has to be some 
central authority to regulate banking, print money, and so forth, otherwise 
the U.S. would experience the same difficulties as did Germany prior to 
its unification, when much of the country was still divided into numerous 
small, independent states, each with its own banking regulations, its own 
currency, its own weights and measures, etc. 1 

As many petty states as there were, ... so many were the differ¬ 
ent civil and criminal codes, so many the different kinds of coins 
and banknotes, so many the different military, financial, and 
transportation-related institutions. ...The citizen ofWiirttemberg 
needed a passport to travel to Baden. For a stay in Koburg-Gotha, 
Braunschweig, or Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, the citizen of Baden 
needed to exchange his money. 2 

For normal economic development, the financial and commercial 
regulation of Germany had to undergo a centralizing process that spanned 
most of the 19th century. 3 If centralization could somehow be reversed in 
Germany—or in the U.S. or any other country—economic growth and 
technological progress there would be significantly impeded. 

So why not attack centralization? First, it would be exceedingly dif¬ 
ficult to attack centralization successfully. An organization or a movement 
would have to concentrate all its energy on that attack, and even if it suc¬ 
ceeded in substantially reducing centralization the result would be only to 
slow technological progress to a certain extent; neither the technological 
system nor the principal evils associated with it would be eliminated. Thus, 
in attacking centralization the movement would use its resources ineffi¬ 
ciently: It would expend vast energy in the hope of only a modest gain. 

Worse still, by concentrating its energy on the campaign against 
centralization, the movement would distract attention (its own and other 
people’s) from the most important target, which is the technological system 

In any case, an attack on centralization could not be successful. Of 
course, there is no special difficulty about decentralizing in situations where 
centralization has proven to be economically inefficient. E.g., excessive cen¬ 
tralized control over economic activity, otherwise known as socialism, has 

Appendix Three 


largely died out due to its inefficiency. But where centralization promotes 
efficiency, its prevalence is guaranteed by a process of natural selection. 4 
Systems that are more centralized (in aspects in which centralization 
contributes to efficiency) thrive better than those systems that are less 
centralized; hence, the former tend to expand at the expense of the latter. 
Since inefficiency imposes economic and other hardships on people, most 
will oppose decentralization. Even the majority of those who now hold a 
negative view of centralization would oppose decentralization when they 
found out what it cost them in terms of efficiency. For example, if you 
wanted to let each state of the Union establish its own monetary policy and 
print its own currency independently of all the other states, your proposal 
would be dismissed as ridiculous. Even if you somehow succeeded in putting 
such a measure into effect, the negative consequences—monetary chaos 
and so forth—would outrage so many people that centralized control in 
monetary matters would soon be reinstated. 

Needless to say, if future developments should ever make centralized 
systems economically and technologically inefficient in comparison with 
less centralized ones, then it will be relatively easy to decentralize. But in 
that event your attack on centralization will be promoting technological 
progress rather than retarding it. In either case, attacking centralization is 
not an effective way of resisting technological progress. 

Arguments very similar to the foregoing apply to any effort to elim¬ 
inate capitalism. To have any hope of eliminating capitalism a movement 
would have to concentrate all its energy on that task, and even if it suc¬ 
ceeded in eliminating capitalism the gain would be very modest, because 
technological progress would continue, though at a somewhat slower rate. 
There was no capitalism in the Soviet Union, for example, yet that country 
was by no means a negligible force technologically. Even before World War 
II the Soviets were among the leaders in nuclear physics; 5 their MiG 15 
jet fighter shocked Western forces in the Korean War with its speed and 
agility; 6 the Soviets were the first to develop a really successful jet airliner, 
the Tu-104; 7 and the Soviet Union was the first nation to put an artificial 
satellite into orbit. 8 

Thus, an antitechnological movement that focused on the elimina¬ 
tion of capitalism would gain little in return for an enormous expenditure 
of energy. What is worse, by focusing on capitalism the movement would 
distract its own and other people’s attention from the far more important 
objective of bringing down the technological system itself. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

An attack on capitalism moreover would be futile, or would be suc¬ 
cessful only temporarily and in a few countries at most. Capitalism has 
become the world’s dominant economic system through a process of nat¬ 
ural selection; it has replaced other systems because under present-day 
conditions capitalism is economically and technologically more efficient. 
For this reason, even if you could get rid of capitalism in some countries, 
these would tend strongly to revert to capitalist economic structures as the 
relative inefficiency of their non-capitalist systems became apparent. This 
has been demonstrated through experience: When the socialist countries 
of Eastern Europe couldn’t keep up with the West economically or tech¬ 
nologically, they adopted capitalist systems. Sweden once was ideologically 
socialist, but in practical terms socialism never got very far in that country. 
Today Sweden is still a capitalist welfare-state—and is becoming less of a 
welfare state as it reduces benefits in the interest of economic efficiency. 9 
China remains nominally socialist, but for the sake of economic success 
the Chinese government now allows a great deal of private enterprise, i.e., 
capitalism. 10 In Nicaragua the Sandinistas still pretend to be socialist, but 
in reality they are turning to capitalism. 11 This writer knows of only two 
countries left in the world that are free of capitalism: Cuba and North 
Korea. No one wants to imitate Cuba or North Korea, because they are 
economic failures. And that’s why Cuba is now (2011) taking some timid 
steps in the direction of capitalism. 12 

So it’s clear that as long as we live in a technological world we will 
never get rid of capitalism unless and until it is superseded by some system 
that is economically and technologically more efficient. 

The arguments I’ve outlined here in reference to centralization and 
capitalism are equally applicable to globalization, bureaucracy, big, intrusive 
governments, environmental recklessness, and any number of other evils 
the elimination of which would merely impair the efficiency of the techno¬ 
logical system while still permitting it to grow. As long as society remains 
saturated with the values of the technological system, most people will not 
accept any measures that seriously impede the functioning of that system. In 
order to get people to accept such measures, you would first have to convince 
them that the supposed “benefits” of modern technology are not worth the 
price that has to be paid for them. Thus, your ideological attack must be 
focused on modern technology itself. An attempt to eliminate capitalism, 
globalization, centralization or any other subordinate evil can only distract 
attention from the need to eliminate the entire technological system. 

Appendix Three: Notes 



1. Dorpalen, p. 167. Zimmermann, pp. 8-9. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, 
“Germany,” pp. 106, 111, 113. By “unification” we mean not merely the foundation 
of the German Empire in 1871, but a process that arguably lasted as long as 93 
years, from the changes imposed by the French conquerors in 1807 (ibid., p. 102) 
to the promulgation of a uniform civil code for the Empire in 1900 (Zimmermann, 
p. 9). 

2. Zimmermann, p.8, quoting one “Lowenthal” without any further indi¬ 
cation of the source. 

3. See note 1, above, and Tipton (entire article). Tipton argues that historians 
err when they identify a particular date, e.g., 1834 (creation of the Zollverein— 
the customs union) or 1871 (foundation of the German Empire), as the point at 
which German economic development “took off”: Quantitative data show that 
German economic development throughout the period in question was a smoothly 
continuous process in which no “take-off’ points are apparent. 

But in places (e.g., pp. 222-23) Tipton seems to argue that centralizing 
events like the creation of the Zollverein or the foundation of the Empire were 
unimportant for Germany’s economic development. If this is what he means, then 
his argument has to rest on the assumption that such events could not have been 
economically important unless they were signaled by an immediate change in 
the rate of economic growth. And that assumption is clearly unjustified. Among 
other things, as Tipton himself points out, the changes in economic regulation 
brought about by the Zollverein and the Empire were developed only over a span 
of decades: The Zollverein was not fully implemented until 1857 (Tipton, pp. 
201, 209), while the economically relevant legislation of the Empire was enacted 
piecemeal and was not completed until 1897 or even perhaps 1900 (Zimmermann, 
p. 9; Tipton, p. 209). Moreover, realization of the economic consequences of the 
changes in regulation required certain developments, such as the construction of 
railroads (Tipton, pp. 200-01, 205), that could not occur overnight. 

Thus, the absence of quantitatively identifiable “take-off’ points provides 
no evidence that the centralization of economic regulation was unimportant for 
economic growth. Tipton himself notes that “[fjree movement of resources is 
important for development” (p. 198), and that “[fjactors of production will be 
more mobile... in an area without internal tariffs, separate monetary systems, or 
variations in commercial regulations” (p. 200), from which it logically follows that 
centralized economic regulation is important for economic development. 

4. See Chapter Two of this book. 

5. NEB (2003), Vol. 21, “International Relations,” p. 858. 

6. Ibid., Vol. 8, “MiG,” p. 117. See also Air & Space, Oct./Nov. 2013, p. 80. 

7. Woodall, p. 4. Mellow, pp. 61, 65. 


Anti-Tech Revolution 

8. NEB (2003), Vol. 19, “Exploration,” pp. 47-48. 

9. The Economist, June 11, 2011, p. 58. 

10. The private sector is the most vigorous part of China’s economy. The 
Economist, March 12,2011, pp. 79-80, and June 25,2011, p. 14 of Special Report 
(“the dynamism in China’s economy is mostly generated by non-state firms”). 
It’s true that massive government intervention has played an important role in 
building up China’s economy, but this has been only a temporary stage that is 
characteristic of backward countries that are straining to catch up with the fully 
developed industrial nations. See NEB (2003), Vol. 24, “Modernization and 
Industrialization,” p. 288. In all probability, government intervention in China’s 
economy will become less and less conducive to economic vigor as that country 
moves beyond the “catch-up” phase. 

11. The Economist, Aug. 27, 2011, p. 33; Nov. 5, 2011, pp. 47-48. 

12. The Week, April 29, 2011, p. 8. USA Today, May 10, 2011, p. 6A. 


The Long-Term Outcome 
of Geo-Engineering 

In 2009, a correspondent asked me whether I thought nuclear weap¬ 
ons were the most dangerous aspect of modern technology. What follows 
is my reply, heavily rewritten. 

The most dangerous aspect of modern technology probably is not 
nuclear weapons. It could plausibly be argued that the remedies for global 
warming that are likely to be adopted constitute the most dangerous aspect 
of modern technology. 

Nations have a strong incentive to avoid using nuclear weapons, at 
least on any large scale, because such use would probably be suicidal. This 
doesn’t mean that nuclear war can never happen. On the contrary, the risk 
of it is very real. But a major nuclear war at least is not a strong probability 
for the foreseeable future. 

On the other hand, it is virtually certain that nations will fail to 
reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide sufficiently and in time to pre¬ 
vent global warming from becoming disastrous. Instead, global warming 
will be kept in check through “geo-engineering.” This means that the 
Earth’s climate will be artificially managed to keep it within acceptable 
limits. 1 Of the many tools that have been proposed for management of the 
Earth’s climate, three examples maybe mentioned here: (i) Powdered iron 
can be dumped into the oceans to stimulate the growth of plankton that 
will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 2 (ii) Microbes or other 
organisms may be genetically engineered to consume atmospheric carbon 
dioxide. 3 (iii) Carbon dioxide maybe pumped into underground reservoirs 
for permanent storage there. 4 

Any attempt at geo-engineering will entail a grave risk of immedi¬ 
ate catastrophe. “Geo-engineering makes the problem of ballistic-missile 
defense look easy. It has to work the first time, and just right.” 5 Novel 
technological solutions usually have to be corrected repeatedly through trial 
and error; rarely do they work “the first time, and just right,” and that’s why 
people “quite rightly see [geo-engineering] as a scary thing.” 6 



Anti-Tech Revolution 

But let’s assume that geo-engineering does work the first time and 
just right. Even so, there is every reason to expect that the longer-term 
consequences will be catastrophic. 

First: Attempts to meddle with the environment almost always have 
unforeseen, undesirable consequences. In order to correct the undesirable 
consequences, further meddling with the environment is required. This 
in turn has other unforeseen consequences... and so forth. In trying to 
solve our problems by tinkering with the environment we just get ourselves 
deeper and deeper into trouble. 

Second: For hundreds of millions of years, natural processes have 
kept the Earth’s climate and the composition of its atmosphere within 
limits that have allowed the survival and evolution of complex forms of 
life. Sometimes during this period the climate has varied enough to cause 
the extinction of numerous species, but it has not become so extreme as to 
wipe out all of the most complex organisms. 

When human beings have taken over the management of the Earth’s 
climate, the natural processes that have kept the climate within livable limits 
will lose their capacity to perform that function. The climate will then be 
entirely dependent on human management. Since the Earth’s climate is a 
worldwide phenomenon, it cannot be managed by independent local groups; 
its management will have to be organized on a worldwide basis and there¬ 
fore will require rapid, worldwide communication. For this reason among 
others, management of the Earth’s climate will be dependent on techno¬ 
logical civilization. Every past civilization has broken down eventually, and 
modern technological civilization likewise will break down sooner or later. 
When that happens, the system of human climate-management necessarily 
will break down too. Because the natural processes that kept the climate 
within certain limits will be defunct, the Earth’s climate can be expected 
to go haywire. In all probability the Earth will become too hot or too cold 
for the survival of complex life-forms, or the percentage of oxygen in the 
atmosphere will sink too low, or the atmosphere will become contaminated 
with toxic gasses, or some other atmospheric disaster will occur. 

Third: When the Earth has a managed climate, maintenance of the 
technological system will be considered essential for survival because, as 
has just been pointed out, the breakdown of the technological system will 
probably lead to radical and fatal disruption of the climate. The elimination 
of the technological system, through revolution or by any other means, 

Appendix Four: Notes 


would be almost equivalent to suicide. Because the system will be seen as 
indispensable for survival, it will be virtually immune to challenge. 

The elite of our society—the scientists and engineers, the corpora¬ 
tion executives, the government officials and the politicians—are afraid 
of nuclear war because it would lead to their own destruction. But they 
will be delighted to see the system that gives them their power and their 
status become indispensable and therefore immune to any serious challenge. 
Consequently, while they will make every effort to avoid nuclear war, they 
will be quite pleased to undertake management of the Earth’s climate. 


1. See, e.g., Time, March 24, 2008, p. 50. 

2. Wood, p. 73, col. 2. 

3. Leslie, p. 6, col. 4 (microbes). Wood, p. 73, col. 1 (trees). 

4. Wood, p. 73, col. 2. Sarewitz & Pielke, p.59, col. 3. It necessarily remains 
an open question whether the carbon dioxide will remain underground as long as 
the proponents of this plan believe. Even if a “demonstration project” (ibid.) keeps 
the C0 2 underground for as long as, say, ten years, that doesn’t guarantee that it 
will stay there for a hundred or a thousand years. Moreover, any demonstration 
project will be carried out with special care by highly qualified experts. But once 
the procedure becomes routine and is widely applied, there inevitably will be 
negligence, incompetence, and dishonesty in its execution. Compare Kaczynski, 
pp. 315, 417-18. 

5. Wood, p. 76, col. 1, quoting Raymond Pierrehumbert, a geophysicist at 
the University of Chicago. 

6. Ibid. 


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Abdullah II (king of Jordan), 37(n73) 
Absolutism, Age of, 22 
Adams, John, 197, 206(n34) 

Africa, 109, 110, 130(nnl02, 103), 

African National Congress (ANC), 


African pygmies, 158 
Alfred the Great (Saxon king), 162, 

Alinsky, Saul D., 76(nl5), 150, 151, 159, 
167,171, 176(nn8,13), 178(n44), 
180(n76), 181(nn78, 81, 89), 
183(nll2), 193, 205(n6) 

A1 Qaeda, 53, 57 
Anarchoprimitivism, 167 
ANC. See African National Congress 
anti-apartheid movement, 169, 173 
apocalyptic cults, 74, 88(nl40) 
arsenic, 60, 66, 80(n58) 
artificial intelligence, 71, 72, 
84-85(nll9), 86(nl23), 187 
Asia, 205(nl4) 

Athens, ancient, 10 

Atmosphere, 55, 58, 64, 65, 66, 82(nn80, 
81, 83, 87), 83(nl05), 215, 216 
atomic bomb, 12. See also nuclear war 
and weapons 
Atoms for Peace, 11, 12 
Austria, 23, 37(n74) 

Aztecs, 196, 202, 206(n31), 207 
(nn48, 49,50) 

Bacon, Francis, 87(nl33) 

Bannockburn, Battle of, 163 
Batista, Fulgencio, 145, 146,179(n55) 
Biosphere, 55, 56, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 
82(nn80, 81, 82, 83), 86(nl26) 
Bismarck, Otto von, 10, 12, 34(nl4) 
Bohr, Neils, 12 

Bolivar, Simon, 8,15, 34(n7), 142, 

178 (n43) 

Bolivia, 169 

Bolshevik, 98,108, 112, 114,116, 136, 
137, 146, 147,151, 152,154,158, 

71), 182(nnl02,107), 183(nnl08, 
115), 185(nl74) 

Bonaparte, Napoleon, 90, 91, 99, 117, 143 
Brazil, 14,198 

Britain, 93, 104,105,106, 107,110,112, 
Brook Farm, 114, 131(nl23) 

Bruce, Robert, 162, 163,166,184(nl53) 
bureaucracy, 52, 77(n26), 129-130(n99), 
209, 212 

butterfly effect, 14 
cadmium, 61, 66, 83(n97) 

Caesar, Gaius Julius, 20, 36-37(n48) 
Calvin, John, 108, 119,129(n98) 

Canada, 105 

capitalism, 85(nl20), 193, 200, 209, 211, 
212. See also corporations; private 

carbon dioxide (C0 2 ), 49, 56, 64, 65, 66, 
67, 82(n81), 215, 217(n4) 

Cardenas, Lazaro, 117, 132(nl36) 
Carrillo, Santiago, 36(n44), 77(n27), 
129(n99), 179(n56) 

Castro, Fidel, 27, 28, 39(nl01), 95,112, 
141,145,146,156,159,160, 165, 
166,169, 176(n6), 179(nn53-56), 

Castro, Raul, 165 

Catholic Emancipation (Ireland), 103, 
104,115,128(n67), 131(nl27) 
centralization and decentralization, 

101, 120, 122, 123,209,210,211, 
212, 213(n3) 
cerium, 80(n55) 

CFCs. Seechlorofluorocarbons 
chaos, 14,15, 16, 17, 31, 35(n31) 
Che-tsung (Chinese emperor). See 

China, 21, 22, 62, 81(n75), 96, 99,100, 
114,127(n39), 148,195, 205(nnl3, 
20,23), 212, 214(nl0). See also 
Revolution, Chinese, of 1911, and 
Chinese, communist 




Ch’ing (Chinese dynasty). See Qing 
Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, 196 
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), 66, 83(nl01) 
Christ. Srejesus Christ 
Christianity, 74, 87(nl35), 87-88(nl38), 
94, 95, 98, 126(nnl4, 15, 17-19), 139 
Churchill, Winston, 84(nll4), 128(n68), 
151, 177(n28), 197 

civil war, Russian: 147, 165, 180(n71); 

Spanish: 26; U.S.: 151 
Clausewitz, Carl von, 90, 91 
COINTELPRO, 169,175,185(nl62), 

Collins, Michael, 112, 115, 116,169 
commons, problem or tragedy of, 19, 

Communism and Communist Parties, 
36(n44), 99,100,108, 114,116, 
127(n39), 129-130(n99), 131(nl20), 
141,145, 163,166, 171,173, 
183(nll5). See also Bolshevik 
copper, 60, 80(n58) 

Corday, Charlotte, 139, 177(n24) 
corporations, 28, 42, 52, 57, 70, 77(n25). 

See also capitalism; private enterprise 
coupling. See tight coupling 
Cretaceous, 58, 68 

Cuba, 27, 28, 38(nl00), 39(nl08), 141, 
145, 146, 212. See also Castro, Fidel; 
Revolution, Cuban, of 1959 
cyanide, 79(n52), 83(n98) 
cyborgs. See man-machine hybrids 
Darwinism, Social. See Social Darwinism 
decentralization. See centralization and 
decoupling, 49, 50 

deep ecology, 122, 123, 124,133(nl57) 
De Gaulle. See Gaulle, Charles de 
De Klerk. See Klerk, F.W. de 
De Valera. See Valera, Eamon de 
democracy and democratization, 10, 29, 
52, 93, 106, 109, 110, 111, 116, 117, 
129(n99), 130(nl00), 151,152,157, 

Depression, The Great (1930s), 29,143, 

Douglas, William O., 77(n26) 
drones, 174, 186(nl85) 

drug cartels and gangs, 51, 53, 77(n21), 
101, 102, 130(nl05) 

Earth, planet, 47,48, 55, 58, 64, 65, 66, 
67, 68, 82(nn81, 87), 125, 203, 215, 

Easter Island, 203 
EATR (war machine), 63 
economics, science of, 7, 13, 26,27,28, 

Edington, Battle of, 162 
Edward I (English king), 162 
Egypt, ancient, 195 

Egypt, modern, 52, 77-78(n28), 144, 175, 
' 178(n49), 186(nl89) 

Eisenhower, Dwight D., 11, 20, 35(nl9) 
Ellul, Jacques, 1 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 41, 75(n2) 
empires, pre-industrial, 46, 195, 196 
Engels, Friedrich, 18, 21, 28, 36(n44), 
126(n21), 145, 178(n51) 

England, 93, 102,104,117, 131(nl26), 

environmentalism and environmentalists, 

Europe, 22, 23, 35-36(n43), 39(nll3), 

71,104,106,109, 111, 139,148, 
177(n28), 179(n58), 195, 202, 212 
evolution, biological, 28, 48,53, 59, 70, 
73, 75—76(n8), 86(nnl26,127), 


evolution, of human organizations, 

28, 31, Chapter Two, Part II 
(throughout), Appendix Two, Parts 
E, F (throughout) 

evolution, in general, 42-45, 72 , 73, 199 
extinction (of species), 58, 68, 73, 
86(nl26), 216 
Fannie Mae, 194 
Fascism, Italian, 127(n28) 
feminism, 97,102, 108, 110, 114,117, 
127(n26), 128(nn55, 57), 132(nl39) 
Fermi Paradox, 55 
flexibility, 137, 138, 176(nl7) 
fossil fuels, 62, 65, 83(n92). See also 
petroleum extraction and industry 
Fox, Vicente, 101 
fracking (hydraulic fracturing), 61 



France, 22, 106, 111, 140. Seealso 
Revolution, French 
Franco, Francisco, 26, 27, 38(n91) 
Franklin, Benjamin, 50, 189, 206(n34) 
Freddie Mac, 194 
Gambia, The, 110 

Gaulle, Charles de, 140, 178(nn35, 39) 
genetic engineering, 66, 215 
Genghis Khan. See Chinggis Khan 
geo-engineering, 66, 215, 216 
George. See Lloyd George 
Germany, 10, 23, 34(nnl3, 14), 38(n78), 
96,131(nnll4, 116, 117), 139,143, 
163, 169,176(n7), 177(n28), 195, 

197, 205(nl5), 210, 213(nnl, 3) 
Gladstone, William E., 105 
Glendinning, Chellis, 32, 39(nll7), 

119,120, 121, 122,124,132(nl51), 

globalization, 149, 209, 212 
global self-prop(agating) systems, 47-55, 
197,198,199, 203 
global warming, 64, 65, 66, 67, 

80-81(n63), 81(n73), 215. See also 
carbon dioxide 

gold, 60, 79-80(nn51, 52, 53) 

Gortari. See Salinas de Gortari 
Grant, Ulysses S., 151 
Greece, modern, 144 
green energy, 62, 63 
greenhouse effect. See carbon dioxide; 
global warming 

Green Revolution. See Revolution, Green 
Griffith, Arthur, 131-132(nl32) 
Guevara, Ernesto “Che”, 169, 185(nl68) 
Guinea-Bissau, 77(n21) 

Hitler, Adolf, 10, 23, 24, 29, 99, 
127(n36), 136, 143, 176(n7) 
housing bubble, 194 
Hoyle, Fred, 133(nl62) 

Huizong (Hui-tsung, Chinese emperor), 


hunter-gatherers, 42, 45, 70, 76(n9). See 
also African pygmies 
Hus, Jan, 113 

hydraulic fracturing. See fracking 
Illich, Ivan, 1, 32, 39(nll5), 124 
immortality, 69, 70, 72, 74, 84(nll6), 
85(nl21), 86-87(nnl29, 131), 

190, 192(n7) 

Inca empire, 196, 202, 207(n48) 

India, 77(n28), 83(n97), 148 
informers. See spies and informers 
Institutional Revolutionary Party, 

127(n34), 132(nl36). See also Partido 
Revolucionario Institucional 
international trade, 27, 28, 194, 195, 

invasive species, 83(nl02), 197, 206(n36) 
IRA. See Irish Republican Army 
Iran, 12, 153 
Iraq, 51,142 

Ireland, 103-108, 110-112, 115,116,118, 
119, 143,166,169, 179(n52). See also 
Revolution, Irish 

Irish Republican Army (IRA), 118, 

iron, 60, 79-80(n52) 

Islam, 98, 99, 127(n32), 139 
Israel, 52 

Italy, 8, 34(n6), 127(n28) 

Japan, 39(nl08), 143, 177(n28) 

Jefferson, Thomas, v, vii, 93, 100 
Jesus Christ, 87-88(nnl35, 138), 94, 95, 

Johnson, Lyndon B., 9 
Jordan, 37(n73) 

Joseph II (Austrian emperor), 23 
July Days (Russia, 1917), 151, 164, 165 
Kaplan, Fanny or Franya, 139 
Kenya, 51, 77(n21), 110, 111, 130(nl05) 
Kerensky, Aleksandr, 147 
Keynes, John Maynard, 84(nll4) 

Khan. See Chinggis Khan 
killer bees, 198 
Kissinger, Henry A., 12 
Klein, Naomi, 33, 40(nnl27-139) 

Klerk, F.W. de, 20, 37(n51) 

Kurzweil, Ray, 39(nll4), 55, 63, 68, 

73, 74, 78(nn32,33), 81(n76), 
83-85(nnl07, 108, 111, 112,113, 
119), 86(nnl23, 124,125,128, 130), 
87(nnl32,134, 135,137), 187, 191, 
192(nnl, 7), 198 
lanthanum, 80(n55) 

Latin America, 100, 109, 110, 148. 

See also South America; Spanish 
lead, 60, 66 



Lenin, Vladimir Ilich, 30, 88(nl39), 91, 
95, 98, 112,114,129-130(n99), 136, 
137, 139,146,150,156,158-159, 

161, 164, 166, 170,176(nnl0, 

13), 177(n23), 179-180(nn59, 60, 

67), 181(nn90, 97), 182(nl07), 
183(nnl08, 109,115), 184(nnl38, 
158), 185(nl74), 193, 204(n5) 
Liechtenstein, 75(nl) 

Lincoln, Abraham, 20, 37(n50), 151 
Lloyd George, David, 29 
Lorenz, Edward, 13,14, 35(n29) 

Louis XIV (French king), 22, 23 
Luther, Martin, 112, 113 
Manchu (Chinese dynasty). See Qing 
Mandela, Nelson, 20, 37(n51), 98, 157, 

man-machine hybrids (cyborgs), 69, 72, 
73, 86(nl24), 187, 188 
Mao Zedong (Tsetung), 89, 90, 95, 112, 
114,124,125(nl), 131(nl22), 137, 
20), 181(n95), 183(nnl20, 121), 
184(nnl35,151), 185(nl76) 

Marat, Jean-Paul, 139 
Martov, Yuli, 181(n90) 

Marx, Karl, and Marxism, 74, 88(nl39), 
95, 112, 126(nn20, 21), 137,145, 

159, 160, 178(n51) 

Maya, 75(n7), 196 

Menshevik, 146, 151, 158, 182(nl07) 
mercury, 61, 66, 79-80(nn52, 53), 


methane, 61, 65, 82(n87) 

Mexico, 34(nl8), 51, 100, 101, 102, 103, 
127(n34), 128(n51), 132(nl36), 197. 
See also Revolution, Mexican, of 

military, 5(n2), 52, 63, 77-78(n28), 90, 
101,140,175,188, 202, 207(nn48, 
49), 210 

millenarian cults, 74, 88(nnl40, 141) 
Ming (Chinese dynasty), 205(n23) 
mining, 60-61, 79-80(nn51, 52, 53), 195, 
204, 205(nl9) 

Mohammed (The Prophet), 96, 98 
Moltke, Helmuth von, the elder, 176(nl7) 
Mongol Empire, 196 
Moore’s Law, 15, 16, 35(n36), 191 

More, Thomas, 33 

Murphy, Audie, 140,177-178(nn30, 31) 
Mussolini, Benito, 29 
Myanmar, 153, 181(n87) 

Naess, Arne, 32, 39(nll6), 122, 123, 124, 
132(nnl52-154), 133(nnl55-158) 
nanotechnology, 83-84(nl07), 87(nl37), 
198, 207(n43) 

Napoleon. See Bonaparte 
natural selection, 28, 31, Chapter Two, 
Parts I, II, III, and V (throughout), 
Nazis, 24, 38(n78), 96, 99,140,143, 
178(n36), 182(nl02). See also 
Revolution, Nazi 
neodymium, 60, 62, 80(n56) 

Netherlands, The, 106 

Nicaragua, 212 

North America, 46 

Northern Ireland, 118, 129(n89), 141 

North Korea, 153, 212 

nuclear energy, 12, 50, 60, 62, 64, 

76(nll), 81(n67), 101, 128(n51) 
nuclear fusion, 81(n73) 
nuclear war and weapons, 12, 49, 56, 60, 
80-81(n63), 153,181(nn87, 88), 215, 

nuclear waste. See radioactive waste 
O’Connell, Daniel, 103, 104, 115, 

oil spills, 66, 83(n99) 

Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 12 
organized crime, 11, 34(nl5), 51, 

76-77(nl9). See also drug cartels and 

oxygen (including ozone), 64, 65, 66, 
83(nl01), 216 

Pakistan, 11, 34(nl8), 52, 77-78(n28), 


PAN. See Partido de Accion Nacional 
paradoxes, 16-17, 35(n38), 55 
Parnell, Charles Stewart, 105 
Partido de Accion Nacional (PAN), 101 
Partido Revolucionario Institucional 
(PRI), 101. See also Institutional 
Revolutionary Party 
Paul, Saint, 87(nl35) 

Peru, 207(n48) 

petroleum extraction and industry, 61, 65, 
66, 80(nn59-62) 



philosopher-king, 29-31, 39(nl09), 

Plato, 33, 39(nl09), 40(nl25) 

Poland, 139,178(n36) 

Potato Famine, The Great (Ireland), 104 
presidency, U.S., 20. See also Adams; 
Eisenhower; Jefferson; Johnson; 
Lincoln; Roosevelt; Truman; 

PRI. See Partido Revolucionario 

private enterprise, 199, 200. See also 
capitalism; corporations 
problem of the commons. See commons, 
problem or tragedy of 
Prohibition (of alcoholic drinks), 10-11, 

proletariat, 74, 88(nl39), 129-130(n99) 
Putin, Vladimir, 109, 130(nl00) 
pygmies. See African pygmies 
Qing (Ch’ing or Manchu, Chinese 
dynasty), 143, 205(n23) 
radioactive waste, 12, 35(n24), 60, 62, 
81(nn64, 65, 75) 

rare earths, 60, 64, 80(n55), 81(n75) 
Reformation, The, 112-113, 119, 143 
Repeal Association (Ireland), 104, 


American, 93, 100, 105, 106, 110, 
177(n30), 197 

anti-tech, 125,135-136,143-145, 
148-149,154,173,174, 216 
Arab Spring, in Egypt, 144,175 
Chinese, of 1911, 143 
Chinese, communist, 99, 114, 163 
Cuban, of 1959, 27,141,145-146, 
176(n6), 179(nn54, 55, 56) 

French, 99, 108, 111, 116, 139 
Green, 11 

Industrial, 102, 133(nl62) 

Irish, 105-107, 112,118,139,140, 143, 
145, 166, 169 

Mexican, of 1910-1920, 99,117 
Nazi, 136,143 

Russian, of 1905,139, 146, 164, 

Russian, of 1917, 99,112,139,143, 
176(nll), 180(n67, 68) 

revolution and revolutionaries (in 
general), 90-92, 95,116-118, 
Chapter Four (throughout), 181(n79), 

revolutions, Spanish-American, 8, 143 
robots, 63, 69, 85(nl20), 87(nl35), 175, 
186(nl91), 198, 207(n44) 

Rockefeller, John D., 80(n59) 

Rome, ancient, and Roman Empire, 8, 

30, 34(nn4, 12), 94, 195, 206(n32) 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 20-21, 77(n26), 

Russell, Bertrand, 88(nl39) 

Russell’s Paradox, 16, 35(n38) 

Russia, 98, 108, 109,116, 136, 146, 

147,165,169,179-180(nn59, 68), 
183(nl08). See also Revolution, 
Russian, of 1905; Russian, of 1917 
Salinas de Gortari, Carlos, 117 
Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus), 

Santa Anna, Antonio Lopez de, 197 
Scotland, 162, 163,166 
self-prop(agating) system, 28, 29, Chapter 
Two, Part II (throughout), 70-73, 
84(nll5), 193,197-199, 203, 204 
Sendler, Irena, 140 
Shenzong (Shen-tsung, Chinese 
emperor), 22 
Singapore, 39(nl08) 

Singularity, The, 74, 87(nnl32, 137) 
Singularity University, 32, 73 
Sinn Fein, 115,118,131-132(nnl32, 146) 
Social Darwinism, 41, 42, 78(n34) 

Social Democratic Party, German: 163, 
169; Russian: 146, 151, 158, 164, 

socialism, 84(nll4), 95, 99,107, 108, 

109,114,116,129(n94), 158,159, 


Socialist Law of 1878 (Germany), 163 
Social(ist) Revolutionaries (Russia), 139, 
solar energy, 63, 66, 81(n75), 120 
Solon, 10, 12 

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr, 41, 75(nl) 

Song (Sung, Chinese dynasty), 22, 196 
South Africa, 20,169,173 
South America, 198 



Soviet Union, 24, 96,109, 129-130(n99), 
131(nl20), 176(nl4), 177(n23), 
180(nn69, 71), 193, 200, 211 
Spain, 8, 26, 38(n89), 85(nl21), 106,143, 

Spanish America, 8, 15. See also 

Latin America; South America; 
revolutions, Spanish-American 
spies and informers, 146, 169, 170 
Sri Lanka, 34(nl8) 

Stalin, Joseph, 23, 24, 95, 99, 112,156, 
157, 181(n99) 

Standard Oil Company, 80(n59) 
Stauffenberg, Claus, Graf Schenk von, 

Stephens, James, 104, 105, 129(n94) 
subprime loans, 194 
Sulla, Lucius Cornelius, 8 
sumptuary laws, 8 
Sun, The, 58, 64, 66, 82(n82) 

Sung (Chinese dynasty). See Song 
surveillance, 174, 175, 186(nl85) 

Sweden, 85(nl21), 212 
Switzerland, 163,169 
Tacitus, Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius, 7, 

Tanzania, 110 

techies, Chapter Two, Part V 

(throughout), 83-84(nnl07, 113), 
86-87(nnl31, 133) 

Technianity, 74, 87(nl35) 
terrorism, 51, 105 
Thailand, 34(nl8) 
thorium, 60, 80(n55) 
tight coupling, 49, 50, 76(nll), 204 
Tikopia, 203, 204 
torture, resistance to, 140 
tragedy of the commons. See commons, 
problem or tragedy of 
Transcendental Club, 114 

transportation and communication, 46, 
47, 49, 54, 56,133(nl60), 195,196, 
203, 205(n23), 206(nn36, 37), 210, 

Tresckow, Henning von, 38(n78) 

Trotsky, Leon, 95, 112,125(n7), 

127(n29), 130(nlll), 131(nl21), 147, 
149, 150, 151,154,158,159,161, 
162,165,169,171,176(nn9, 11, 12, 
15,19), 180(nn61, 64, 67, 70, 72, 

74, 77), 181(nn79, 80, 82, 93, 94), 
182(nnl02, 105), 183(nnll0, 114, 
117,122), 185(nl73) 

Truman, Harry S., 20, 21 
Turing test, 71, 86(nl23) 

Ukraine, 165 

unemployment, 7, 71, 85(nl20), 144 
United Kingdom, 129(n89), 166 
United Nations, 12, 35(nnl9, 21) 
uranium, 60, 64 

Valera, Eamon de, 105, 106, 118 
Venus, planet, 67 
Wang Anshi (An-shih), 22 
Washington, George, 177(n30) 

Weber, Max, 77(n26) 

Williams, Ted, 85(nl21) 
wind turbines and wind energy, 60, 62, 
80(n56), 120 

world peace, 49,50, 51, 204 
World War 1,10,137,143,146,158,164, 
195,204, 205(nl5) 

World War II, 139,140,141,151, 

177-178(nn28, 29, 30, 31), 195,197, 
205(nl5), 211 
Yeltsin, Boris, 109 
Yuan (Chinese dynasty), 88(nl41) 

Zegota, 178(n36) 

Zhezong (Che-tsung, Chinese emperor), 
22, 37(n66) 

Zwingli, Huldrych, 119 

History Social Science 

“ i here arc. mam people todav w ho see that modern 
societc is heading tow ard disaster in one lot m oi 
another, and who moreover recognize techno! 
og\ as the common thread linking the principal 
dangers that hang over us , , , f he purpose of this 
hook is to sinew people how to begin thinking in 
practical, grand strategic terms about w hat must 
be done in order to net our soeiet\ of f the ioad to 
destruction that it is now on. 

from the Preface 

l\S. \. SI6.00 
CAN. s.'UK) 


I* l It I I S II I It s 

\v u w. 1 i l c h in a tl i s o n . c o m 

Iheodore John Kaczynski does not receive any remuneration tor this book.